DEVELOPMENT OF COMMUNIST MOVEMENT IN ISTRIA FROM THE END OF XIX CENTURY TO CAPITULATION OF ITALY IN 1943.
In the time we speak about, Istria was a complex historical-geographical area. It was traditionally inhabited: by the Croats in the inner rural part, the Italians in the towns on the west coast and the Slovenes in the northwest. By the end of WWI it was a part of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy, after that, until the capitulation of Italy on September 8, 1943, was a part of the kingdom of Italy.
Both periods were characterized by specificities that influenced the formation of the social, economic, national, and class profiles of the population.
Choice of Pula as the main military and naval base of the monarchy in 1853... Construction of the arsenal and shipyard in Pula in 1856... Construction of the fortification system of the Maritime Fortress Pula, industrialization of the coal mine in the Raša - Labin basin... all led to the formation of various profiles of working force in Istria. With the growth of workers' groups, a social background for the initial forms of the workers' movements in the 60s and more developed forms in the 90s was created. Workers' societies were founded, and they issued newspapers, brochures and other press releases.
In 1897, the Adriatic section of the Social Democratic Workers' Party of Austria, which also covered Istria, was founded in Trieste. The idea was to gather not only the Italians but also the workers of other nations.
Although many of the concepts of the Social Democratic Party were in principle good, practice has shown that this theory lacks the content revolutionary basis, Marxist dialectics, clarity of purpose and consistency for their realization.
After the end of the WWI, Istria, the Slovenian coast and parts of Dalmatia were occupied by the Italian army on the base of the provisions of the London Treaty.
Demobilized Soldiers from the Eastern Front returned to Istria, many from Russian captivity under the influence of the Great October Socialist Revolution, bringing their experiences to their homeland.
The provincial organizations of the Yugoslav Social Democratic Party in Istria and in the Slovene litoral joined the Italian Socialist Party in 1919.
In 1920, the Socialist Party of Italy came into crisis, three streams appeared: communists, unitarians and reformists. At the Congress in Livorno on 21 st of January 1921, the Socialist Party split up and the Communist Party of Italy was founded.
It is the period of the rise of the fascist movement; Istria is planned to settle colonies from southern Italy. The use of Croatian and Slovene languages is forbidden, the surnames are being renamed, the violence is spread in the towns and villages, the exodus of the domestic Slavic population in the Yugoslav and overseas countries is exacerbated.
The Italian, Croatian and Slovenian Communists of Istria were organized into the Communist Party of Italy. Little occasional contacts with the Communists from Yugoslavia took place through the Slovene ties.
Particularly important for the development of the communist movement in Istria were two events: the rebellion of peasants in Proština, and the rebellion of miners in the coal mines of Labin.
Located between two strong working centers, Pola and Raša, the villagers of Proština, frustrated by the frequent invasions and violences by fascists in their villages, under socialist influence, armed with rifles, dynamite, pistols and village tools, established village councils that caused fascists, carabiniers and army to move. The armed conflict began on April 4 and lasted for three days, until the resistance broke down.
The rampage of fascist squads, the ignition of workers' institutions, attacks on communist activists have been the cause of miners' action in coal mines of Raša and Labin. Returning on March 1 st from Trieste, trade union leader Ivan Pipan was attacked and beaten in Pazin. On the next day, the Trade union and Political Leadership made the decision to strike or to take mines, under the slogan "mine is our". Miners' committee was established, management was removed, red guard set up and coal exploitation continued, but not for capitalist owners, but for their own benefit. Even a ship full of coal was delivered, but it was not paid, because in the meantime after 36 days the rebellion was broken.
The most significant component of the "Labin Republic", as the experience is still called, was a self-governing socialist feature with an internationalist character in which all the miners participated regardless of their national belonging. The newcomer Communist Party of Italy became the political subject in which miners recognized the closest political option to themselves. There were 850 miners in the red federation affiliated to the communist party.
In the press this movement was called: THE RED REPUBLIC, SAN MARINO COMUNISTA or THE ISTRIAN PARIS COMMUNE.
With the coming of fascism to power, the inhabitants of all areas belonging to Italy, including Istrians, had to face fascism 20 years earlier than other Yugoslav peoples, which was an additional motive for revolutionary activism. Structural reorganization on the ground was carried out to prepare the party for illegal work.
In the 30s of the past century, there were several events that left a trace. There was a civil war in Spain where more than 55 istrians participated, 16 of whom died. The survivors continued the struggle in the resistance movements of France, Italy and the national liberation struggle of Yugoslavia.
Throughout the decade several waves of arrests of communists were made, which weakened the party work. The last great wave of arrests in southern Istria was carried out in 1938. The trial was conducted at the Special Court for the Protection of the State in Rome, and the accused were sentenced to high-term penalties. Party's work did not completely fade, but it was significantly reduced. Contact with the Communists from Yugoslavia were established and preparations for the upcoming war were made. The general uprising of the Istrian people began after the capitulation of Italy in September 1943.