© Manca Juvan
A memorial to victims of Mussolini's fascism in Gonars was erected during the cold war period in year 1973. At the local cemetery a shrine was created by a Yugoslav sculptor Miodrag Živković. The 453 remains of Slovene and Croatian citizens who died in internment were then moved to two crypts at the shrine. 

At the time of our unannounced visit municipality workers opened the collective burial place without hesitation, even when in order to do so, they had to drive to Gonars town to get the keys. The keeper spoke reverently about the past. He was eager to tell us about schoolchildren visiting the shrine and a historian Alessandra Kersevan leading educational tours on location. With affection he remembered the presence of Barbara Miklič Türk, a wife of a former Slovene president, a state representative at one of recent yearly commemorations.

Visiting the shrine was a deeply moving experience. Coming out of the silent humid crypts one faces the sculpture representing a flower: stainless steel petals surrounding a round, blood red mosaic. A keeper suggested to me to step in the middle of the mosaic. His invitation: "Say something", met my discomfort and curiosity. I don't remember what I've uttered, but something unexpected happened. 
The waves of sound bounced back amplified. I felt them within my body, in my guts. I gazed in awe at the keeper whose smiling eyes revealed familiarity with the visceral experience I went through seconds ago. 
I walked away changed. 

This experience reinforced the importance of visiting the locations of internment, a commitment we've made when starting the project Remembering Fascist Camps. Our aim's been to be first person witnesses, documentarians of locations that once were Italian fascist concentration camps for Slovene civilians. 

Summarizing our 2000 kilometers drive in Italy and Croatia, with less than clear maps and directions marking locations of internment, i
t was because of local people's help, our persistence and intuition that we've found all five locations in Italy: Visco, Gonars, Monigo Chiesanuova and Renicci, and one location in Croatia.  
It was a place where we could pay our respects to the victims, that we were in search for. 
 While in Gonars (Italy) and the island of Rab (Croatia) memorials are easy to find, on other locations the traces of once existing fascist concentration camps are scarce. However, it's the testimonies of survivors, which you will be able to learn about through this blog, that will reveal otherwise untold fascist interment experiences and memories. You are kindly invited to follow us.

© Manca Juvan

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