Italy opens first 'House of Memory' to honour Foibe victims

Rome Mayor Alemanno inaugurates museum

Italy opens first 'House of Memory' to honour Foibe victims

(ANSA) – Rome, June 6 – Italy on Thursday inaugurated its first museum to honour thousands of Italians slaughtered 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. "Troubled is the nation that loses pieces of its memory", said Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno after inaugurating the museum in the Italian capital's S. Teodoro street. Antonio Ballarin, president of the Venezia Giulia and Dalmatia national association thanked the mayor for "having kept his promise, as this House of Memory is the first of its kind in Italy". The museum also commemorates the mass forced emigration of Italians from Istria and Dalmatia after the war. 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. But in recent years several centre-left politicians agreed that the Foibe massacres constituted a brutal and neglected episode in Italian history. Some, however, still insist most of the victims were Fascists and other supporters of Mussolini. They also argue that the massacres were the direct result of the violent anti-Italian sentiment created by Fascism's crimes in the region, which had been brutally ''Italianised'' by Mussolini. In 2005 Italy instituted a Day of Memory on February 10 to commemorate the Foibe atrocities and the tens of thousands of Italians forced out of Istria and Dalmatia when these lands were given over to Yugoslavia after World War II.

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