Description of the project "Burnt in memories"

Duration: August 2015 – January 2017

Project partners:

  • Znanstveno-raziskovalno središče Koper (Science and research centre Koper - leading partner)
  • Kulturno izobraževalno društvo PiNA (Association for Culture and Education PiNA)
  • Associazione Quarantasettezeroquattro
  • Udruga “Žejane”
  • Associazione Kinoatelje
  • Občina Dolina / Comune di San Dorligo della Valle
  • Istarsko povijesno društvo

Description and aims of the project:

The project is focusing on the multiethnic border region between Italy, Slovenia and Croatia – Julian March or Venezia Giulia (later named Adriatisches Küstenland). This is an area where borders and political regimes changed multiple times in the last hundred years. Also during the World War II, one occupying country (Italy) was followed by the other (Germany). Although this region was since 1920 officially part of Italy, Slovene and Croatian population developed active resistance movements against the regime and agitated for the annexation to the “homeland” – Yugoslavia – or in some cases for the autonomy of the Julian March. Especially during World War II, there was cooperation between Slovene and Croatian partisans and Italian resistance fighters, while the membership of Italian Communist Party was multinational already in the interwar period. During World War II Nazi and Fascist occupying forces burnt several villages in this borderland. Burnt villages hold the symbolism of the sites that occupying forces tried to erase, and therefore should like famous Oradour-sur-Glane, Lidice or Ležáky become recognized as sites of memory. The reason for these war crimes was usually the revenge towards civil population, which supported the resistance – foremost partisan movement, i. e. the freedom fighters. Burnings of villages were most often accompanied with killings, deportations, raids and other violence.

To recollect the events, we will gather personal memories of the burnings and the follow-up, as well as photos of the villages. Based on archival sources and literature we will make a map of the burnt villages in the Julian March. On a larger scale, we need to initiate wide reflection in the public. The documentary and memorial signs will be used as means to achieve that. Therefore, we have to raise awareness among the younger generations that the memory of these war devastations is important part of their local identity. Furthermore, in the spirit of intergenerational respect and curiosity, we have to transcend the national and intercultural conflicts, collective guilt, and intolerances, with a goal to contribute to the strengthening of European citizenship and to stimulate European integration of the region. To that end, we will mobilize the cooperation between NGO’s, local authorities and communities, schools, academia and media.

Project activities:

  • Oral history seminar
  • Documentary project, a short documentary presented in the “burnt villages”),
  • Touring photo exhibition, set in Mačkolje/Caresana (IT), Šmarje near Koper (SI), Lipa (CRO) and Žminj (CRO),
  • Round table - webinar streamed live on some European universities,
  • Memorial signs in selected “burnt villages” Mačkolje/Caresana, Miren near Nova Gorica (SI), Šmarje near Koper and Žejane (CRO).

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