The photo-documentary exhibition Last Witnesses, remembering Italian fascist concentration camps for civilians, hosting as part of Rijeka 2020 program has achieved its purpose: raising awareness of the existence of  Mussolini fascist camps. Addressing the audience are the few living witnesses of the internment from Slovenia.  

An Intimate Photo-Documentary Exhibition The Last Witnesses, Memories of Internment in Italian Fascist Camps , together with the exhibition Fabrics of Resistance: Voices of Women at the Gallery Principij in Rijeka, opened a historical, social and political perspective and contextualisation of fascism, human rights violation and culture of remembrance in Croatia, Europe and worldwide.

Common to all involved is the need to develop a culture of remembrance.

The exhibition, in which Mance Juvan‘s photographs capture former internees from Slovenia evoked the need  to preserve the historical memory of citizens of Croatia.

Last Witnesses in Rijeka

In support of culture of remembrance, witnesses of the internment attended the opening of the exhibition in September 2019: long-time president of the Rab – Gonars Camps Committee in Slovenia Herman Janez and  a retired Croatian lawyer who was born in internment in Kampor on island of Rab, Ivan Zbašnik, who is one out of 9 newborns who survived the internment on island of Rab and in Gonars.

Ivan Zbašnik (standing), herman janež and Vesna Teršelić - Last Witnesess in Rijeka

It turns out that the memory of the internment of Croats in the camps of Mussolini’s Italy is almost completely lost. Therefore requires a reflection on fascism and its rule in the Rijeka area from the 1920s until the capitulation of Italy and wider since the majority of todays Croatian coast was under Italian rule. 

The exhibition space of the Principij Gallery, located in the heart of the city of Rijeka, was visited by elementary school students, high school students, teaching staff and professors, as well as the general public. The opening and closing event was attended by Herman Janež Jr., Janez Maršič and Dušan Zamida, who jointly chair the Rab – Gonars Camps Committee.

Youth visiting the exhibition Last Witnesses in Rijeka

The visitors were pleased to be able to read about this poorly  known part of WWII history in several languages. The exhibition Last Witnesses, co-authored by Saša Petejan, Manca Juvan and Urške Strle, is now providing a 4-language subtitles: Slovene, Italian, English and Croatian. 

Events at the gallery stimulated the socially engaged approach in addressing historic events, war trauma and respect for victims of evil regimes. The program, which also attracted the attention of the media, was co-created by: curator Roberta Bačić of Textiles of Resistance: Women’s Voices, professor at the Faculty of Arts in Rijeka, dr. Vijeran Pavlaković , Croatian peacekeeper Goran Božičević , director of Croatian Documenta Vesna Teršelić and with concluding event intervention of Andrea Roknić Bežanić historian at the Faculty of Arts, Rijeka, Dinko Tamarut, president of the Union of Anti-Fascist Fighters and Anti-Fascists of Primorsko-Goranska County and co-author and the curator of the exhibition Last Witnesses Saša Petejan. 

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Part of the attention was devoted to the restoration of the memorial area of ​​the former Italian fascist camp in Kampor on the island of Rab, where mortality was very high, higher than in the Nazi camps. The majority of inmates in this camp where Slovenians and Croats. Part of the camp served a camp for Jews under Italian protection. 

The talks also included a proposal to host a photo-documentary exhibition The Last Witnesses in the town of Rab. The idea of ​​establishing an educational trail “Schools of Peace – Paths of Peace” was presented, which would include the memorial sites of Mrkopolje, Kampor on Rab and Goli otok.

A content-rich radio contribution was prepared by journalist Marjana Mirkovic for the broadcast of RTV Slovenia Confluence . Bozicevic’s article is published in H-ALTER – Newspaper by H-wrestler ALTER-native.

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