The city of Fiume, Rijeka today (Croatia), belonged to Italy from 1924 to 1945.

After the II World War, with the Peace Treaty of Paris 10th of february 1947, Fiume, first militarily occupied, then given and annexed to the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, held with a communist government.

Istrian map

In 1939, the city counted 58.616 inhabitants and on November 30, 1945 they were 47.839. These last ones were denied the right of self-determination they were granted only the possibility to choose between the two new governments. This grant was linked to the recognition of the language used by the occupying authority.

It has been calculated that more than the 80% of the population have chosen the exodus to Italy.

Our Museum-Archive in Rome has been created to commemorate the injustice suffered by a blameless people.

Today Fiume belongs to the Republic of Croatia and counts approx. 167.000 inhabitants (source: De Agostini – Atlante 1997), of which ca. 4.000 officially belong to the Italian minority represented by the Italian Community with its own law and seat.

The city finds its origin in the ancient roman town Tarsatica, which is presumed to be founded  in 35 BC during the Reign of Ottaviano Augusto and destroyed by the barbarians invasions between the VI and VII century.

At the beginning of the II century, in the same area Flumen (Latin name) was reborn translated by the Croatians as Reka, Rika or Rijeka.

In 1465 the city, also known as Terra Sancti Viti, passes from the “signoria” government of the Frangipani’s family to that of the Walsee and at the end of the Hapsburg.

Federico the IIIrd recognized the rights of  the city consolidated municipal autonomy.

At the beginning, in the documents of the public administration, it was common the use of Latin, while later the  Italian language appeared.

  Fiume - Piazza delle Erbe e Torre Civica

The dialect from Veneto, mainly that one spoken in the area surrounding Fiume, was associated with the use of the Ciakavo Croatian dialect (municipally confirmed in 1876 for the public education and named “illirico”). In this kind of dialect many influences and words from the Veneto dialect were present.

Fiume has never been submitted to Venice. Venice only governed it briefly in 1508 after having destroyed it at least twice. In 1779, for a decretum by Maria Teresa from Austria, it became “Corpus Separatum” of the Hungarian Reign as part of the Hapsburg Empire.

Between 1809 and 1813 Fiume was occupied by Napoleon’s troops and between 1813 and 1822 it was again submitted to Austria.

In 1822 Fiume was again under the Hungarian sovereignty and it passed under the Croatians from 1848 to 1868. But the city, after some vicissitudes, decided to send its own representatives anymore to the Diet of Zagabria. Fiume was again under Hungary, that recognized its right of autonomy within the Crown of Saint Stephen, through a new Statute.

In 1905 it was created the “Giovine Fiume”, a student movement inspired by irredentism in favour of Italy.

At the end of the I World War the deputy from Fiume Andrea Ossoinack, at the Hungarian parliament, claimed for his city the right of self-decision. On October 30, 1918, while without any kind of power it was constituted an “Italian National Council”, presided over by Antonio Grossich. The aim was claiming the annexation of Fiume to Italy so opposing to a “Croatian National Council” claiming the annexation of Fiume to Croatia, the new constituted  Serbian, Croatians and Slovene Reign (S.H.S).

During the diplomatic negotiations for the Peace Treaty, prevailed the will of the American President Wilson who defended the idea to create an autonomous government for Fiume.

The Italian protest was evident in the deed of Gabriele D’Annunzio (1919) who occupied militarily the city declaring it annexed to the Italian Reign.

Gabriele D'Annunzio

Rejected by the Italian Government, D’Annunzio resisted creating “La Reggenza Italiana del Carnaro” provided with a constitution and a government of its own.

On Christmas 1920, the deed was put to an end through an army fight between Italian government troops and soldiers who fought for D’Annunzio.

On November 12, 1920, an agreement between Italy and the Reign of Serbians, Croatians and Slovenians created the “Free State of Fiume”, which was born with a proper constitution. It was regularly elected and its first President was Riccardo Zanella.

On March 30, 1922, D’Annunzio’s soldiers who had remained in the city together with fascists gave end to the Free State experience. After sour internal conflicts, on January 27th, 1924, during the first government of Benito Mussolini, it was reached an agreement with Yugoslavia through the Treaty of Rome. This treaty granted the annexation of the city of Fiume to Italy.

The Governor Giardino, on the 16th of March, in the presence of Majesty King Vittorio Emanuele, with all solemnity, proclaimed to a huge mass of people, the historical event.

At the beginning of the II World War, Fiume participated in the army effort with the Italian Nation. In 1941 Italy invaded Yugoslavia unifying Fiume to the close Croatian city Sussak. It was elected as chief town of province of an area that comprehended centers with an absolute Croatian and Slovenian ethnic majority.

On September the 8th, 1943, as a consequence of the armistice proclaimed by General Badoglio, the Third German Reich considered Fiume “an area of operations of the Adriatic area”. Fiume became subjected, in the administration and militarily, to the German Authority, even if its legal belonging to the Italian Sovereignty still formerly remained.

On the 3rd of May 1945 entered the city the Yugoslavian troops. Fiume then knew a hard dictatorial government with a communist imprint. It caused, in a few years, many victims in the ethnic Italian population. The unpopular politics was the reason of the total exodus of the native population. Although the dramatic events and the uncountable changing suffered by the city, the painful history of its cultural identity of Italian character was defined: a WONDERFUL STORY.

Our Society of Studies is now trying to save, to promote and to protect it from the deforming passions of caused by politic. Perhaps we have been successfull.


© 2017 Società di Studi Fiumani - Via Antonio Cippico, 10 (Roma)

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