The exodus

The household objects of the Istrian, Fiuman, Dalmatian exiled people have been abandoned in an eternal sleepless night for more than 50 years in the Porto Vecchio of Trieste (the old harbour). The eye of the visitor is charmed by the marvelous structure, but at the same time the scenario it sees is absurd, somehow odd and wrong, because it fails to do justice to the tons of pieces of furniture, decorations, work tools and all kind of objects, even coffins, brought there by poor people as they were forced to leave their homes and lands in Istria, Fiume and Dalmatia. Their fate was determined the moment the second world war ended. Those who were born in 1945 (already in 1943 in Dalmatia) were exiled children, exiled people for the rest of their lives, also today, if they are still alive.   Those people left much behind, their spirit, their memories, often intentionally blurred and not shared with their children, who were not told what happened between the end of the ‘40s and the ‘60s, a feeling of reluctance about being Istrian with peaks of pride and, at the same time, the awareness of being Italian, confusion about having to leave their homes and...2000 cubic metres of “household objects”. After whirlwind adventures they have been located at the Magazzino 18 of Punto Franco Vecchio of Trieste. Still there, at the Porto Vecchio where Expo 2008 took place and that should undergo a process of complete redeveloping and modernization. Everyone has proposed their ideas for the re-development of the old harbour, there has been much ado about it, but no one has ever taken the exiled people’s heritage into consideration. 

Our people were victims of an exodus that hit everyone, the number of deaths is unknown, the persecution kept secret. Even the “foibe” are sometimes denied. These mass slaughters of the foibe (pits) happened when a right-wing party was in power and these tragic events had been manipulated, eluded and shamelessly forgotten by the governments of the “prima repubblica” (the Italian republican period from 1948 to 1994). Our people did not get justice, no “do ut des”, they cannot remember or don’t want to. They were afraid and did not fight back before the exodus and did not discuss the situation on a political level afterwards. They had little money. This memory is kept alive not by our people’s claims, but by concessions of Italian left parties, that rewrote history with the help of biased historians and of infamous “commissions of Italian and Slovenian historians” created to “agree on common historical interpretations”. In the name of an integrated Europe history can be agreed upon and then, be taught at school. If our historians had leafed through history books used in Slovenian schools, they would have - perhaps - noted the difference as compared to ours.   However, the exodus is what it is: an episode to be removed. On one side we observe an extraordinary effort to preserve every single moment of an historical phase lasted 40 years on the shoulders of one man; on the other side we see facts sunk into oblivion and silence.

What has survived? Almost nothing, since the last generations who lived the exodus died. We have only 2000 cubic metres of objects. A huge number of things capturing the everyday life of a society that was suddenly destroyed. Its destruction went on for a long time, it was washed away by a cyclic wave. Few survivors utterly disoriented and unwillingly displaced. Physically and spiritually displaced. Human lives bearing inconceivable wounds, that did not spare even those who decided to stay.

Household objects of the exiled people

They represent the cornerstone for the realization of the ethnographic section of the museum and meet two needs: the need for evidence on a specific fact - the Istrian exodus in the aftermath of the war - and that, more general and universal, of the idea of exodus. The objects in the old harbour of Trieste reflect, exactly as they are, the precise meaning that they should convey. We could say that, if it were possible and, especially, well accessible, we could consider the heaps of objects where and as they are, a true MUSEUM that has survived in its original location (first storeroom no. 26 and afterwards no. 18) for 50 years. Yet the status quo requires precise photographic contents so that that what the visitor feels could be, albeit partially, transmitted through pictures and videos that should be one with the museum. A general overview of the collection can be found in “Arredi domestici, documenti, strumenti di lavoro dei profughi istriani depositati a Trieste” (Piero Delbello, I.R.C.I. - ed. Italo Svevo, Trieste, 1992).