Today, Italy marks the Day of Remembrance of the Foibe massacres. This was when thousands of Italians were ethnicically cleansed by Tito’s Yougoslav partisans at the end of World War II.
“Today, Italy marks the Day of Remembrance and pays its tribute to the martyrs of the Foibe [massacre] and to the Italians who were forced to abandon their homes just because they were Italian,” Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said.
“Hundreds of thousands of our compatriots who were forced to flee and whom the nation did not know how to welcome as it should have done”.
What were the Foibe massacres?
The Foibe mass killings took place mainly in Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Istria and Dalmatia during and after World War II against the local Italian population. Foibe are narrow Carsic pits or gorges into which victims were thrown, sometimes alive.
It is estimated as many as 15,000 Italians were tortured or killed by Yugoslav communists who occupied the Istrian peninsula during the last two years of the war.
Many of the victims were thrown into the narrow mountain gorges during anti-Fascist uprisings in the area. The exact number of victims is unknown, in part because Tito’s forces destroyed local population records to cover up their crimes.
Foibe Remembrance Day was not set until 2004. “The memory of the Foibe and the Giuliano-Dalmatian exodus was for too many years the victim of a real conspiracy of silence,” Meloni said.
Whilst all atrocities such as this should be both remembered and condemned, there is always a story behind it.
World War II was initially a battle against fascism. In response to the fascists, the Italian dictator Benito Musssolini being one of them, communists and other anti-fascists fought back.
The foibe massacres were mainly committed by Yugoslav Partisans and OZNA against the local ethnic Italian population (Istrian Italians and Dalmatian Italians). They were also against anti-communists in general (even Croats and Slovenes), usually associated with Fascism, Nazism and collaboration with Axis. Indeed, anyone who was seen as a real, potential or presumed opponent of Tito communism was ‘removed’.
Tito, head of the Yugoslav Partisans, though initially of similar thinking to Stalin, had a clear split from the USSR after WWII. Yugoslavia remained independent in thought and policy. Titoism is characterised by a broad Yugoslav identity, workers’ self-management, a political separation from the Soviet Union, and leadership in the Non-Aligned Movement.
In short, one political/ideological way of thinking begets another, and when they become extreme atrocities take place in their name. It doesn’t matter whether that is to the left or right, anarchist, or religious – the danger lies in a lack of understanding and empathy with our fellow humans.