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Calls for 'never again' on Foibe killings remembrance day

Struggle against ignorance and indifference, says Senate speaker

10 February, 19:15
Calls for 'never again' on Foibe killings remembrance day (ANSA) - Rome, February 10 - Italian Senate Speaker Pietro Grasso said on Monday that everyone must work to ensure that "such horrors" as the Foibe massacres are never repeated. Grasso was speaking at an event to commemorate the thousands of Italians killed by Yugoslav strongman Marshal Josef Tito's partisans by being thrown alive or dead into gorges called foibe in northwestern Yugoslavia at the end of WWII. Grasso said that remembering was "a duty" and that "it serves as a warning for all of us to make sure that we prevent ignorance and indifference from getting the upper hand", which would result in such horrors being repeated.

"This is a duty towards the survivors, the victims' families," he said, calling the Foibe killings "one of the saddest chapters in our history". In addressing the youths who took part in the competition "Italian Literature of Istria, Fiume and Dalmatia", the areas in which the killings of the local Italian population occurred, he said that he was confident that the study they had engaged in as part of the project had helped them to better understand the past and accept others. The Italian Parliament instituted the Day of Remembrance ten years ago, he noted, on the anniversary of the 1947 peace treaty between Italy and the Allied Powers. 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 of these atrocities is unknown, in part because Tito's forces destroyed local population records to cover up their crimes.

The Foibe atrocities were for decades a divisive issue in Italian politics, with right-wing politicians accusing the Left of trying to airbrush the massacres out of history and focusing exclusively on the crimes committed by Benito Mussolini's Fascist regime.

Grasso went on to say that the Yugoslav occupation, "which in Trieste lasted 45 days, was not only the cause of the foibe and deportation to Yugoslav concentration camps", but that it had also forced many people to leave their homes.

"The Italian population from that area was almost entirely wiped out" and the memory of it had long been neglected, he said.

"Italy cannot and does not want to forget," he added.