© Manca Juvan

"This is part of my identity," Barbara Miklič Türk said while holding a pink knitted cap in her hands.
On this well preserved historic object, made by her mother during her internment in Italian fascist concentration camp in Gonars (Italy), are embroidered names of inmates and years of internment "42 - 43", meaning years 1942 and 1943.

In Ms. Miklič Türk's hands was a material representation of events that happened 70 years ago, when Kingdom of Italy occupied half of the territory of Kingdom of Yugoslavia, and when an estimated 7.5% of Slovene population was displaced to Italian fascist camps.
Italy wanted the occupied territory, not its inhabitants. In internment they were referred to as alogeni, an Italian word used to describe a less than human. 
Barbara Miklič Türk, wife of the former Slovene president, who has served for majority of his career in the United Nations, has been carrying this cap along with her wherever they lived. On occasions she spoke of historic events and remembered her mother's and her maternal grandparents' internment. Her memories often evoked surprise as listeners discovered the very existence of Italian fascist concentration camps.

In the years 2008-2011, during several encounters with Italian President Giorgio Napolitano and Mrs. Napolitano, President Dr. Danilo Türk and his wife Barbara Miklič Türk spoke about the tragic experience of Slovene and other internees in the Camp of Gonars. These conversations helped raising sensitivity for this aspect of history in Italy.

In the year 2011, at the invitation of the Major of Gonars Marino Del Frata she attended the commemoration of the victims of the Gonars camp. The ceremony was attend by Slovene state representatives, representatives of the Slovene minority in Italy and combatants association, and the delegation of the Republic of Croatia. In her speech she expressed respect for the victims and remembered the tragedies of fascism and the World War II.
For Ms. Miklič Türk everyone has a right for her pain to be respected. 
In Ms. Miklič Türk's perspective it is important to spread the awareness about this specific period in European history. We need to remember and make our best to prevent something similar to occur again. Her memories serve as ambassadors keeping the experience of a period of suffering, terror and destruction in Europe and in the Balkans present. 

Leave a Reply

© The content on this blog may not be reproduced without permission of the authors. Powered by Blogger.