Hosted as part of the Rijeka 2020, European Capital of Culture, programm, the photographic-documentary exhibition Last Witnesses contributes to the preservation of the historical memory of internment in Italian fascist camps for the sixth consecutive year. The guests at the opening will be last living witnesses of the internment in years 1942 and 1943.

The Croatian exhibition opening is announced on September 14, 2019 at the Principij Gallery in Rijeka. While the focus of the exhibition is on survivors, their relatives and friends from Slovenia, while breaking through a politically induced historic amnesia is crucial to the authors. As the evil and the WWII war crimes of Mussolini’s Italy never got a judicial epilogue, survivors were exposed to injustice and oblivion. 

To this day, political successors in Italy have not apologized to the peoples of the former Yugoslavia and to other victims of Italian fascism. Meanwhile, the international community is just about to mature to a point, when it can recognize and acknowledge the evil of Mussolini’s fascism.

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The Last Witnesses, the memories of internment in the fascist camps, is part of an on-going collaborative project connecting Slovenia based journalist Saša Petejan, photographer Mance Juven and historian dr. Urške Strle. The Museum of Contemporary History of Slovenia (MNZS) co-produced the first opening of the exhibition in September 2013. Since then, the exhibition has been regularly hosted, so far in Slovenia, in Germany and Italy, and now in Croatia.

The Rijeka opening is organized by the Croatian organization Documenta , Center for Dealing with the Past with associates, including the German EVZ Foundation and the International Union for the Remembrance of the Holocaust ( IHRA ) .

The opening of the exhibition will be followed by training for Croatian teachers. The purpose is to approximate the historical memory of the existence of italian fascism and the evil it caused to the peoples of the former Yugoslavia. Multimedia educational materials will be handed out to teachers: a graphic novel by the Italian cartoonist David Toffol: L’inverno d’Italia (Italian Winter), a video interview with the artist and a witness produced by the APIS Institute, along with a suggestion to use non-formal learning methods. It is an experiential approach to learning.

In addition to the Institute APIS and MNZS, the co-producer of the exhibition is the Scientific Research Center of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts ( ZRC SAZU ). In 2016, ZRC SAZU published a monograph Guardians of the Spoon, which received an award at the Slovenian Book Fair.

A bilingual, Slovenian and English educational website, Guardians of the Spoon, was also created.

GUARDIANS OF THE SPOON BOOK, MEMORIES OF INTERNMENT IN ITALIAN FASCIST CAMPS 1941-1943

GUARDIANS OF THE SPOON BOOK, MEMORIES OF INTERNMENT IN ITALIAN FASCIST CAMPS 1941-1943

For many years Saša petejan is active in international research and documentary projects on italian fascism including mapping, collecting archival documents, interviewing witnesses and producing educational content.

A unique research project: Dalle guerre nell’Africa alla Repubblica di Salò, contains an outstanding map and the most extensive digital collection of documents and testimonials on Italian fascism evil. It is available only in Italian but nonetheless of extreme international importance for the understanding of the WW2 events.

Hosting in Croatia will continue in January. It is announced the opening of an exhibition on island of Rab. And there is more to this historic memory preservation project: an accessible application will be  available to visitors of the memorial cemetery in Kampor. APIS Institute will be the producer  of an easy to use access to information about past events.