Saturday, February 20, 2016

Unwelcome Anniversaries

Passing through the centre of town the other day I came across this small demonstration in the main Piazza which was largely ignored by almost everybody passing by except for a couple of children. 
Reggio Emilia
The 10th of February in Italy is the day of remembrance for the victims of the “Foibe” massacres that took place in 1945.

As a remnant of the Venetian Empire the eastern Adriatic coast still had a sizable ethnic Italian population particularly in the north. Istria was handed over to Italy at the end of the First World War and under Fascism a heavy handed Italianisation of Istria was attempted creating friction between the ethnic Italian and Slav populations.

At the end of the second world war in 1945 the retribution of Tito’s communist Slav partisans against the ethnic Italian population was brutal. A massive episode of ethnic cleansing took place with the massacre of at least ten thousand people many of them thrown still alive into the limestone sinkholes called “Foibes” that can be found in the region around Trieste. Tens of thousands became very unwelcome refugees in an Italy which wanted to forget a lost war.

For political expediency both the Italian Communist party implicated to some degree in the matter and the ruling Christian Democrats who  quickly pushed the matter out of sight for political expediency, a wish to move forward and forget an unspeakable past  and also to avoid further problems with Yugoslavia. 

With the fall of the Berlin wall and Communism  (including the powerful Italian Communist Party) the facts of the atrocities started to emerge in the 90’s and in 2004 the day of remembrance was instituted by a government that included a  big Post Fascist element. This has caused a certain diplomatic fall out with Croatia and Slovenia which still surfaces from time to time.
The Digos (Polital Police) try to look like bystanders.
Reggio Emilia was ruled for many years with massive majorities by the Communist party and now by their modern counterpart. The demonstrators are clearly from the right and so in a city like Reggio Emilia not worthy of respect. Italy has still not come to terms with the past and the poison of 70 years ago still runs very strongly through the veins of Italian politics.

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