Today, the 10th of February 2017, marks the 70th anniversary of the signing of the Paris Peace Treaty which took place on this same day in 1947. This day also marks the 70th anniversary of the Foibe massacres and the exile of 350,000 Italians from Istria and Dalmatia. The massacres and enforced exile was ordered by the communist dictator Josip Broz Tito against all Italians and anti-communists Slavs. Today many people of Istrian-Italian origin are living in the United States and also in St Louis. One of the most famous Italian chefs, Lidia Matticchio Bastianich, was born in Pola, Italy (now Pula, Croatia). Mario Andretti, one of the most successful race car drivers of all time was from Montona, Italy (now Motovun, Croatia). Istria today is officially bilingual in Italian and Croatian and is one of the most beautiful hidden treasures of the Adriatic Sea. Today it is shared by three countries: Italy, Slovenia, and Croatia.
While it is important to move forward in solidarity, it is also to important to understand the sufferings of the past and to commemorate those who lost their lives and homes to a brutal ethnic cleansing. Italy is filled with grand history but this particular chapter is not the brightest and one that should never be forgotten.
An interesting reflection from past president of Italy, Giorgio Napolitano:
“…Already in the unleashing of the first wave of blind and extreme violence in those lands, in the autumn of 1943, summary justice and tumult, nationalist paroxysm, and social retaliation were intertwined with a plan to eradicate the Italian presence from what had been, but ceased to be, the Julian Marches (Venezia Giulia). There was therefore a movement of hate and bloodthirsty fury, and a Slavic annexationist plan, which prevailed above all in the peace treaty of 1947, and which assumed the sinister shape of an “ethnic cleansing”. What we can say for sure is that what occurred – in the most evident way through the inhuman ferocity of the foibe – was one of the barbarities of the past century.”
— Italian president Giorgio Napolitano, Rome, 10 February 2007