Venezia Giulia is a small border region that stretches over Italy, Slovenia and Croatia. For centuries its capital city, Trieste, was a multicultural place whose inhabitants shared a pragmatic mercantilism. However, dormant tensions, especially between Italians and Slavs, emerged powerfully towards the end of the Hapsburg rule when the idea of nationalism gained ground and was later fully exploited by Italian fascism. After Italys Armistice in September 1943, and again in May 1945, Venezia Giulia became a no mans land where the competing forces of fascism and communism fought a pitched struggle. It was the last battle of the Second World War and the first of the Cold War: the much sought-after stakes were Trieste and Venezia Giulia where the violence unleashed was beyond brutal. Some of the most terrifying episodes of this story are linked to the Karst landscape of the region, which is studded with foibe, deep cone-shaped pits excavated by water in the limestone rock. During the period of Yugoslav partisan rule in the area, thousands of Italians were thrown inside these pits. Some were killed beforehand, others were dumped alive and left to rot in the chasms. However, such events were sharply contested by Marshal Josep Broz Tito and still are by left-wing sympathisers, sparking intense debate over the truth. Was this simply revenge for Italys attempts to erase the Slav identity of the Slovene minority in Venezia Giulia? Was it just self-defence for the 1941 fascist invasion of Yugoslavia? Were all Italians fascists and all Slavs communists? By drawing on Anglo-American documents, this powerful study challenges decades of selective rhetoric about the rendition of events, leading the reader through the process by which the foibe killings became possible. Rather than focusing on the minutiae of the ongoing debate, the book reduces the story to a modern territorial contest: two nations, one land. A Blood Border is a nuanced and detailed account of Mussolinis and Titos manoeuvres to redraw borders in blood, in order to achieve maximum territorial expansion where to impose their ideology. The history of this brutal time also analyses the reaction of the Allied troops present in the area. The result is a vivid and often disturbing account of facts, where Luisa Morettin convincingly portrays a border region in a moment of historical transformatio
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