Free Trieste



militari_it_02.1October 1954: pursuant to the Memorandum of Understanding of London, the Italian Government is entrusted with a special trusteeship mandate over Trieste, the most desired Trieste, the very symbol of the bloody Risorgimento, the wars leading to the Fatherland’s national unity.

Indeed, the Italian Peace Treaty of 10 February 1947 established that Italy, defeated aggressor in World War II, was to lose its sovereignty over Trieste at the Treaty’s coming into force.

This is why, since 15 September 1947, Trieste is a new State’s Capital city.

This State is the Free Territory of Trieste – FTT, it has the only existing international Free Port, and it is under the UN Security Council’s own protection. It is a State governed under a provisional regime of Government, in the form of a special trusteeship mandate.

From 15 September 1947 to 25 October 1954, the Governments of the United States and of the United Kingdom administered Trieste directly, with the AMG FTT (the Allied Military Government of the Free Territory of Trieste).

Since 26 October 1954, the Governments of the United States and of the United Kingdom have sub-entrusted that mandate to the Italian Government (not to the Italian State) under a Memorandum of Understanding “regarding the Free Territory of Trieste”.

This means that since 1954, the Italian Government is also Trieste’s civilian Government. In turn, NATO takes care of Trieste’s military defense. So are things in Trieste.

Trieste was to preserve its authorities and laws. But things took a different turn.

Soon, the Italian Government’s Commissioner for the Territory of Trieste (no longer “Free”, ironic enough) misused his authority to limit the rights of Trieste’s people, in breach of the 1954 MOU and of the Italian Peace Treaty. For instance, depriving Trieste’s people of their citizenship rights.

Indeed a conspiracy against the rules-based international legal order. One accepted in the name of global balances. This happened during the Cold War Era: balances were too tense to take a stand about Trieste. Indeed, the small State had an important and strategic international Free Port: what was most important was preventing it from falling in Communist hands.

It was the people of Trieste to pay for those tensions. Once citizens of a Free State, they found themselves inhabitants of an exploited “colony”. Many left to never return.

Between 1954 and 1961, more than 30,000 Triestines have left, especially for Australia, to escape the return of Italian officers, often nationalists, and also the vexations and oppressions that came with them.

Those who stayed withstood, once again, forced Italianization. The first one started in 1918; and continued during the Fascist regime.

In this framework there is also the illegal conscription of Trieste’s male citizens in the Italian army. It was the Commissioner of the Italian Government to order it, with his own decrees (in force since 1957, even).

This is how, from 1954 to 2005, thousands of Triestines ended up in the Italian draft lists. The Italian Army conscripted many of them. In breach of the 1947 Peace Treaty and of their rights, Triestines were drafted in a foreign army.

But how could the Italian army force foreigners to serve in its ranks? Easy: have them sign a blank paper. Add “volunteer” on it later on.

There was no other way. Refusing to sign meant being arrested by the Carabinieri and imprisoned in a military prison for resisting military service.

The Army continued to regard Triestine “volunteers” as foreigners (they indeed were), to disregard them as “Slavs” and to strictly surveil them for their alleged unreliability.

Nobody ever talks about this inconvenient event. Global silence hides a crime against humamity. While the victims are still there, waiting for a long denied justice. And for the human dignity denied to them.

They are victims of a State that has never come to terms with its embarrassing story made of forceful denials of the truth. And the victims of their own sub-administering Government, which betrayed the people it should have protect.

Translated from blog “Ambiente e Legalità” – “Environment and Legality” by Roberto Giurastante