“Slowly the rope ran over the pulley, drawing the tangle of hooked limbs from the abyss; long hair, brightly colored clothing, revealed that in the cargo were the corpses of two women. While the others approached to free them and lay them on the ground, the man suddenly gave back as if electrocuted and murmured in a voice strangled by tears: “xe mia fia …” Then he fell unconscious ».
«Xe mia fia …». She’s my daughter. Seventy-eight years have passed since the discovery of the bodies of the girl and two sisters killed by the communist partisans under the orders of Ivan Kolic known as “el Gobo” in the Orichi foiba, near Barbana. But those words gathered by Arnaldo Harzarich, the firefighters of Pola, who spent every energy to recover the Italian victims thrown into the karst fissures, still give a pang to the heart. His name was Antonio Radecchi, that father who witnessed the discovery of his daughters. Albina was 21, Caterina 19, Fosca 17. They lived in Lavarigo and, as Dino Messina wrote in Italians twice (Solferino), “they went to work in a factory in Pola and on the way, before returning home, they stopped to talk to some soldiers stationed at the Campo di Fortuna di Altura”. That was enough to unleash ethnic and political hatred. Taken away from home two days earlier, used as scullery and raped, they were finally thrown into the abyss with twenty-three other poor people.
To pick up those words of the fire marshal was in 1945 a fascist teacher who, after having been a volunteer nurse in Libya, attempted to enlist (false documents, shaved head) as a soldier and finally obtained to teach at the elementary school in Split, he stuck in the collection of a mountain of documents on the massacres against the Italians in the autumn of 1943, months in which our ‘September 8, they were caught between two fires: on this side the Nazi troops and on the other side the Yugoslav partisans, bitter enemies in contending for the territory, but both blinded by hatred against us. Documents that he hoped would serve to convince not only the Allies, but even before what remained of the fascist right such as Junio Valerio Borghese and together with the Southern Government led by Ivanoe Bonomi and together with the same non-communist partisans starting from the Osoppo Brigades, to overcome the insuperable divisions so that the Istrian lands did not end up under the red heel of Josip Broz, Tito.
Her name was Maria Pasquinelli, that teacher. And it would go down in history two years later, on February 10, 1947, when he killed British General Robert de Winton, the allied commander of the area, in protest with three gunshots in Pula. The first hypothesis taken up by the “Corriere” (a deliberately false spy?) Was that the woman had been “induced to murder De Winton by the Yugoslavs to put the Italian community of Pola in a bad light at the moment when the city is about to pass under the jurisdiction of Belgrade or acting on some particular cause of resentment against the British military. ‘ In reality, the woman had in her pocket a note revealed and summarized two days later by Indro Montanelli: “I wanted to kill to avenge the betrayal committed against my country and to do so on the day when the shameful peace imposed on Italy was signed in Paris “. He confessed at the trial: “I didn’t want to shoot the man or even the uniform”, but “what he represented.” He added: “I did not know either the name, or the physiognomy, or the details of his family.” It was a symbol, end. Sentenced to death, pardoned in 1964, exalted by the hardest right, but accused by all the others of never having asked for forgiveness for that murdered man guilty only of other people’s decisions, she confessed to the reporter and writer Rosanna Turcinovich: “I hear every night the his breath on my neck ».
On the contrary, he left it to the journalist, Croatian but from the Italian minority, author of the book Justice according to Mary, a letter that delegated her to collect a trunk full of letters, reports, brogliacci from the curia of Trieste. Baule finally delivered after years to the recipient who, with the help of another journalist, Rossana Poletti, examined the documents page by page, obtaining a book, All that I saw, Beyond Editions. Where the history of the traumatic amputation of Istria, Kvarner and Dalmatia is reconstructed, the tragedy of the exodus, the infamy of the sinkholes. In which many innocent Slavs and victims of Tito’s barbarism would also end up (as in Kocevski Rog, where the bodies of 250 murdered were recovered only in August 2020), but above all, in the cursed autumn ’43, many Italians.
Valuable documents. Just like on the discovery of Albina, Caterina and Fosca, each noted by Harzarich with the same horrible detail (“quartered with a stake”) and included in the list of “non-registered martyrs of the National Fascist Party”. Murdered, like so many, “only” because they are Italians. The testimony of the brother of the writer Scipio Slataper, Guido, says it all. Who, having survived the Mauthausen concentration camp, declared at the Pasquinelli trial (“he spoke exclusively in Italian, his constant concern was Italy, outside and above every party”) that “Italians had been thrown into the sinkholes without distinction, indeed (also) fervent anti-fascists had been cast ». And so say it all certain newspaper clippings that, emerging from the trunk, demonstrate how embarrassed and hypocritical a certain left was, which for years claimed to “not know” the frightening reality of the karst abysses. Lastly, Achille Occhetto six years ago: «I myself learned of the tragedy of the sinkholes only after the“ turning of the Bolognina ”. I had never known about it before. ‘ It will be … On the «Piccolo» in Trieste of that 1943, however, obituaries were published as follows: «On the night of 5 October, in the foiba di Vines, the life of Giacinto Bulian, a 41-year-old building contractor, was cut short. pain give the sad announcement the wife … ». Was it possible that the PCI, before grieving but belatedly acknowledged it, was unaware of everything?
The blood freezes, the documents of that trunk. For the story of the torment of Norma Cossetto, the young teacher symbol of the slaughter, kidnapped, raped by a bunch of sixteen partisans, beaten and thrown into the foiba of Villa Surani. For the repetitiveness of the findings in those karst slits of black dogs slaughtered so that, according to a legend, they kept the dead company and prevented them from complaining. For certain images: «A woman recognized her husband and her eighteen-year-old son among the bodies of a load. The unhappy one wept and screamed in despair; then he fixed himself in the idea that the shoe that the son was still wearing and which seemed tight due to the foot swollen with rot, should hurt “his child” … ». Impossible to forget. Wrong to remove. It is unacceptable to still deny what happened. After so many years, however, says Rosanna Turcinovich, the same pasionaria who had pushed herself to kill for the love of the Istrian lands, she no longer retained an ounce of hatred or rancor. Only pain. Regret. Nostalgia.
February 9, 2021 (change February 9, 2021 | 21:59)