Monday, June 09, 2008

Old Yugoslavia. Slovenes in Trieste. The Three-Sided Cooker: Changing rule, and minorities.

Slovenia's Setting
A Straddling of Cultures, Wars

Slovenes in Trieste

Small countries at the crossroads of great powers, such as Slovenia, may lose identity temporarily as the great powers and their wars sort themselves out.  Trieste was caught in that crossfire, once part of the vast Austro-Hungarian Empire, now, after two world wars, Trieste is part of Italy.  Discussions of Trieste straddle two of our own sites as we travel on our own in the region:  1) see Trieste Road Ways, and 2)  Croatia Road Ways;  and 3)  Austria Road Ways,

A casual traveler will be confused at the outset, and remain confused about who was part of Slovenia history, and when, and why.  Our own visit was a quick in-and-out, consisting
of two basic site in Slovenia, just because we happened to be nearby: Lake Bled, with less expensive overnight accommodations are at nearby Kranj; and then the capital, Ljubljana. There are also parks and Alps.  We wish we had had more time.  Take that time.
Take much more time. The bucolic views of the castles and lake are only one aspect of this area. This is a vibrant culture, where conquerors marched and divided, and the consequences are still being felt.
And appreciate the history of this region.  See timelines.  This one starts, however, at the close of WWI, in 1918, with the downfall of the old Austro-Hungarian Empire, see
  • After WWI.  Slovenia becomes part of a new conglomerate of nations, Yugoslavia -- Croatians, Slovenes, and Serbians.  Nazi Germany and Italy then occupy it at WWII.
  • After WWII.  In the years following, Slovenia becomes part of a socialist conglomerate "Yugoslavia" -- adding more nations. In 1989, Slovenia seeks to secede, and does so.  2002:  Slovenia joins NATO, and in 2003, is supported in its quest to become part of the EU. 
  • If you or your children are lacking in this basic history before going to this or any overseas area, you are shortchanging yourself if you do not plan to research it, before or after.
Seek more than a mere WWI-WWII Timeline.  Find this timeline going far behind WWI:  to 43,000 BC -- see  That gives a realistic sense of the reach of these cultures, these issues.

Slovenia, Trieste, Italy, Balkans - Croatia, Austria. Interwoven.
1. Triangle of three nations.
Slovenia and Trieste presents the crossroads of three nations, Slovenia, Italy and Croatia that join at the tip of the Istrian peninsula.
Prepare to cross several boundaries in a short time and have your car insurance forms in order. If you rent your car in Croatia, as we did, you have open access to Slovenia and Italy.  If you rent in Italy, however (Trieste), you cannot cross over into Croatia.
2. Population shows history. All is not Italian.
  • Trieste.  Trieste now is part of Italy, but the population of Slovenes remains substantial in Trieste and the region. See Trieste at Trieste Road Ways, Crossroads and Minorities. In 1911, a third of the population of Trieste was Slovene. And in the rural areas surrounding, at least 90% were Slovene. See  No wonder Trieste had so many suitors.  Look at the location. Admire and envy the Trieste urban kayakers downtown - port and dock area now includes recreation. But then see the mountain areas surrounding, like a bowl, and remember the atrocities of WWII there.
3. Crises.

After WWII, Slovenia wanted Trieste, as did Croatia and Italy.

Italy got Trieste, fully in 1954;  see its tactics to get Trieste after WWI at <a href-"http://www.triesteroadways.blogspot,com">Trieste Road Ways</a>.
But a declaration does not a solution make.
Slovenia, as part of Yugoslavia, had some leverage against territorial incursions of Italy and Rome. Slovenia has long been a crossroads of trade, culture and conquests, see

Look at the history.

Celts, Romans, invasions by Huns and Germanic tribes, dominance by the Germanic Langobards, Slavs, formation of the Duchy of Carantania by Slavic peoples after severing ties with others now in the Czech Republic, Bavarians, Franks, Magyars who then cut off Slovenian Slavs from other Slavs, enabling variations in culture and identity, and on to modern times -- see the 15-years site.
4. Fast forward to basic Chronology of interweavings. Pre WWI, modern.  Slovenia was governed by Austria, the Habsburgs.
After 1918 - Trieste was given to Italy.
1920 or so - This was a time of increasing Italian assaults and violence against Slovenes in Trieste, an attempt at forcing assimilation. Banks shut down, Slavic or German languages could not be spoken, priests were arrested and sent into exile. Slovenes even had to take on Italian last names.
Enter an era of atrocity, as WWII ended. See A long-sought investigation was commenced into the perhaps hundreds and even thousands killed, and left or buried in the mountain ravines surrounding Trieste.  But it was soon blocked. Italians and Slovenes both have reasons to avoid exhuming bodies. Read about the foibas - potholes, some large, like mines, where things and people were thrown.
WWII to 1954 - Trieste was administered by British and Americans. There was supposed to be a free city of Trieste, but instead it ended up with the Italians, a sore point to Slovenes who felt betrayed. A 1949 election clearly showed rejection of the idea of secession to the Italians.
1957 - Belgrade (capital of Yugoslavia) built up a rival port, Koper. It thrived. Trieste lost ground.
Minority status of Slovenes in Trieste - precarious.
For nations whose history includes invasions and take-overs, there are broad swings.  In Slovenia, there was Rome in ancient times, to self-governing, to medieval Swabian Germans to Habsburg Austrians to WWII Hitlerian nightmares, to multi-nation administration, then a Division regardless. In the United States, we are isolated -- or have been --and our isolation makes our judgments on other people's tumultuous lives look juvenile. As we are, with our 250 years.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

European Union - Slovenia Holds Current Presidency

The value or membership in the European Union to a small nation - here, small-sized Slovenia enjoys its turn at the rotating presidency trio of the EU: Slovenia, Germany and Portugal this time. Jose Manuel Barroso lays out his priorities at :// See :// (German perspective) and :// (Slovenian perspective). Slovenia presides beginning 2008.

Particular interest: the issue of Kosovo's independence arises in 2008, see topic already in headlines, at :// Meeting in Ljubljana, Slovenia's capital, already held in January 2008. See Ljubljana posts here for photos.

However, Russia and the United States apparently are not attending. Great, guys. Slovenia is a neighbor in the Balkans, was part of the old Yugoslavia, as was Serbia and Kosovo, Croatia and Bosnia and Montenegro - it has unique knowledge and perspective. Listen up, someone, please.