In 1945, Italy found herself in a strange position. She was fighting alongside the Allies against what was left of Axis, being recognized as a ‘co-belligerent’. At the same time, she was a defeated Axis Power.
The new communist Authorities of Yugoslavia had no doubt: Italy was still an enemy. Their armies ruthless pushed towards Trieste, trying to annex the city. They were stopped by the Anglo-American armed forces, which took the city under their protection, but were able to occupy Istria and Dalmazia.
Italians living in the two Adriatic regions were forced to escape, leaving all they had behind, in order to avoid being rounded up by the Yugoslav Authorities and executed.
350,000 Italians were able to escape. 20,000 were killed and their corpses thrown into the ‘foibe’, natural deep holes found in the landscape of Northern Yugoslavia.
In 1947, the Peace Treaty of Paris allowed Yugoslavia to definitively annex Istria and Dalmazia, in exchange for the renunciation of any claim to Trieste, which was supposed to become an international UN-administered free city, similar to Tangiers.
The campaign of ethnic cleansing by Yugoslavia was censored in Italy due to diplomatic reasons and to the pressure of the powerful Italian Communist Party.
Then the Communist Party dissolved, and so did Yugoslavia. Finally, the curtain of silence was broken, and in 2004 the Italian Parliament declared an official memorial day to be celebrated every 10th of February.
During this year’s ceremony, rightist politician Giorgia Meloni asked for the defunct Yugoslav dictator Marshal Tito to be posthumously stripped of the Italian Knighthood that he received while in office.