In September 1919, the Italian poet and writer (and rapist) Gabriele d’Annunzio led a takeover of the city of Fiume (now Rijeka in Croatia) and proclaimed the ‘Italian Regency of Carnaro‘. It lasted a year or so, before the becoming the ‘Free City State of Fiume’. It’s a complicated story, and he’s a complicated man. On a basic level, he (and others) thought that after the first World War, when the victors were dividing up their winnings, that Italy should take what he believed was rightfully Italian, including this city. The city was run for this short period as a place ….. Here are some posters from the period, with (google) translations.
“Command of the City of Fiume
Those who invoked against the application of Decree No. 50 of the City of Fiume Command concerning the repatriation of irrelevants in Fiume who came to reside in the Territory after 30 October 1914, the exceptions provided for in art. 5 of the aforementioned decree, will go to the police station the R. Sunday, March 7 from 8 am to 12pm. If the application is accepted, they will be given an authorization sheet to remain in the territory of Fiume, signed by head of Cabinet and the Police Commisioner.
Fiume of Italy, March 5, 1920.
THE HEAD OF CABINET
Alceste De Ambris”
last night there continued in some districts of the city rash devastation. It is not permissible to desecrate the memory of noble martyrs with destruction and vandalism; it is not worthy of Italians to enrage a cool head against the property of others, even that of enemies. The excesses, explained in a first flush of passion, find no justification whatsoever when they become systematic. I call again on the citizens to refrain from reprehensible acts and warn that any further attempt against things and people will be repressed with the utmost rigor and with everlasting energy. Measures will be taken to eliminate as soon as possible from our city, the enemies and strangers hostile and dangerous, and are being implemented in full agreement with the military authorities. FIUME
15 Lugio 1920
In response to proposals made by General Badoglio, Military Special Commissioner for Venezia Giulia, Commander d’Annunzio has given the General his counterproposals that can be summarized in the following formula: “Give us serious guarantees that Italy does not renounce it in Fiume, nor to the territories already occupied after the armistice and we are ready to cooperate because the situation of Fiume falls, even from a military standpoint and discipline, under normal conditions.
There so proven baseless, are rumors spread artfully by recent official statements that the Commander d’Annunzio would be animated by subversive intentions and by the intention to provoke new wars through expeditions in areas not covered by the armistice convention. The Fiume City of Command”
Command Section for Campania
Fiume today sent to the Lombard capital 250 of its poor children. The generous people of St. Ambrose opened its arms to the children of the holocaust, with a love and a fedepattriottica (?) and Christian at the same time! They are parties, as an offer victtiva (?), as the pledge of the promise that boasts their virgin breasts “ITALY OR STRONG” and never done the lover came the tears and kisses that these small flowers go: from Mothers to Mothers! They imprison suits hopes in the smile of their looks, and their skinny little bodies, their abitucci (?) threadbare lives and trembles a triple dazzle of colors, which exceeds the heartbeat of all the flags of Italy to suffio (?) victory.
The generous impulse of Milan is emulated by many other cities in Italy: Turin and Bologna await anxiously other imminent departures.
Will the voice of Naples remain dumb?
All the generous Neapolitan people roar with joy and desire at the thought of being able to see, kiss, a single child of Fiume, of feeling for his mouth as you love your country and how it is rooted blood Fiume this love! We Neapolitans legionaries, we have the pride of this faith, and we ask our fellow citizens that the coronino (?), which make us be proud of our comrades of the North.
Welcome a Fiume child who’ll try that and frail, even barefoot, because it is Italian, because her parents had preferred the shame misery of serfdom, because Italy has sacrificed their assets, their homes, their activity and a sacred duty for every Italian who has the opportunity to do so! And the families who have an empty place at their home, they have of mourning, sacrifice witnesses, bless the Fatherland and the children, who have procured – the joy of being able to fill that void, pressing those mourning the purest incarnation of that same radiant vision that lightning last look of their children! It shall be blessed a thousand graves of the war, a thousand mothers who conceived the horror, but fed their creatures of the most lively faith, and today sent to Italy, as the baptismal font, please see and know the beautiful country that they did worship in the hearts.
Sara organized coast a Committee to collect offerings and provide arrival. We await with faith.
Fiume of Italy February 21, 1920
LEGIONARI CAMPANI employees to propaganda
“Ra LEGATION OF ITALY IN FIUME
Since last Sunday, a group of people shouting “Long live Italy” continues to bring about deplorable acts, maintaining a City in a sorry state of disturbance. In my quality of Minister Plenipotentiary of Italy, I consider it my duty to declare rash, all acts directed against the legality. Not with disgraceful violence that is provided effectively to protect the interests and the Italian civilization! As a former guest and faithful friend of this noble City, then I feel strongly the need to add the word ‘peace’. Fiume is thirsty for peace. The nation awaits its resumption of its industrious activity for years! More unrest, even if inspired by noble idealities, can not be the new sourcs of evil in this troubled city. In his name and in the holy name of Italy that you love, I ask you to return to order.
Fiume, 27 April 1921
“We in Fiume have an admirable leader: Rocco Vadala; our Legion Carabinieri Volunteers bears his glorious name.
All Carabinieri who want to show their Italian faith in Fiume in Italy, will be welcomed fraternally, and widely honored by citizens and legionaries.
I know that our wait will not be in vain.
Here and Italy real refuge Victory betrayed!
“Semper idem sub eodem” (“Always the Same”)
Fiume in Italy, 1920
“To friends in Italy! The news of the stupid and hateful nittiana (?) provocation to prohibit the transit of Fiume children who had to go to Milan has produced among the population and the legionaries an excitement bordering on fury. There will be demonstrations and purpose of all solid and unanimous: CHILDREN PASS AT ALL COSTS. If the order will not be promptly withdrawn upload the kids on a ship that will travel to Venice to place them under cover of a destroyer with orders to fire on anyone who tried to oppose the landing. This has informed the Commander d’Annunzio to General Caviglia, and this will do.
We recommend it to all my friends because they help us in every way, waving the question that should be of interest and move all if Italy does not become whole and a country of cowards when fear of the government and the socialists even stifles the voice of human compassion.
We hope that the newspapers do not completely “incagoiati” speak despite the censorship, which groups more close to us will agitate, that some Member be finally dare to do at least a query in order to force the government to say why does it deny Fiume children hospitality granted to an extent fifty times more to Viennese children.
The next Official Bulletin of the Commando will contain loose elements to provide our friends of all the weapons to fight. Hopefully they know and want to use it. All personally we recommend a work brisk and courageous: for once the situation and does not leave doubts on our right and good on infamy government. We have to knowing how to benefit. Viva Italian Fiume!
After exercising pressures because the Fiume Command had submitted its counterproposals to the modus vivendi (way of life/living) offered by billeted, he has rejected his own counterproposals without giving reasons for rejection and without admitting further discussion. So you try to blackmail another time, under threat of serious suffering, the very Italian cities, requiring it to accept a modus vivendi (way of life/living) by which the government reserves it to give up:
1) up to the hinterland to the north of Fiume, including the railway artery of the port; 2) to all the Quarnaro islands, of which Fiume and tributary and forming with the port of Fiume an indivisible whole; 3) to the delta between Fiumara and Eneo, that a good part of the port.
In front of the imposing inhuman and criminal threat, Fiume last night gave a new proof of his magnanimous Italianity. The National Council, by unanimous vote, decided to reaffirm its full confidence in the Commander, entrusting him with the task of deliberating.
The Commander reserved the right to make known their decision. Meanwhile the billeted troops who patrol launched a new Fiume proclaims: it recognizes that those who were declared deserters from him and passed to the enemy last September are now the saviors of Fiume. But he invites them to leave the City, under pain of severe penalties, declaring resolved the question of Fiume with its modus vivendi classically defeatist.The soldiers of Fiume, as the Fiume City, will be left only to drive from their commander.
The Fiume of the City Command.
Yes. It’s an interesting way of looking at the 1st World War. To be honest though, I would have liked a bit more poetry, and a bit more discussion about the structure and formal effectiveness of that poetry. To be shown just how much of an everyday cultural integer poetry once was is a revelation to me.
When I was a boy and living in Germany, I played football for the local village team. It was a mixture of Germans and British sons of RAF parents. Over the 4-5 years of playing for them, we would often play teams who had a few ‘Turkish’ kids in their team. These were likely 2nd generation immigrants, the sons of some of the people that this book talks about. The few immigrants seeking work who were able to stay in Germany and bring/have their family there.
I do remember being told on more than one occasion (though the way childhood memory works, who can be sure?) by team mates, both British and German, that the Turks were ‘cheats’, ‘dirty’ and ‘smelly’. I can see in my minds eye the German boys holding their noses so I could fully understand.
The one distinctive memory I actually have of playing against a Turkish boy was during a game on a very hot summers day. A lot of the pitches we played on weren’t grass, but a kind of terracotta dust. It would kick up and get in your eyes, and if you did a sliding tackle it would leave a huge dirty mark along your leg like a hakeme brush. When I sweated, the drips down my forehead would collect the dust and create little trails down my face.
This boy (we were probably 9 or 10 years old) had tiny feet which made the ball look even bigger than it was, but he had incredible control, and could do Cruyff turns. He was very short but strong and had a big arse. His hair was thick and dark and curly and I couldn’t get the ball off him. I can picture him running around me and away as I desperately tried to grab his shirt, and lunged into a sliding tackle that got nowhere near him or the ball.
Mesut Özil was born in Gelsenkirchen in October 1988, a 3rd generation Turkish-German (“My technique and feeling for the ball is the Turkish side to my game. The discipline, attitude and always-give-your-all is the German part”), around the time I was in Germany (1986 – 1991). Gelsenkirchen was around 60 miles from where we lived, and in the 70’s many Turks made their way to this part of Western Germany to work in the then numerous factories.
Özil is my favourite footballer. There is a strange beauty in the way his body moves, the balance and grace and the certainty of movement. When he passes the ball he never overhits it, or underhits it – it is perfectly struck to allow the receiving player to take the ball without breaking stride. He can shape his body to make it appear he is about to do something else, without it being a showy dance like Ronaldo. What I really like is that he sees where other players are on the pitch, and can put the ball in the right place at the right time. I think at Arsenal it probably took the other players a season or so to realise that they could make unusual runs, and that they would be seen – to trust in Özil’s ability to find them. By having this ability, he creates unusual patterns on the pitch, of movement of players and the ball. He creates and that’s why I like him.
This book, like all of Berger’s, is sensitive and empathetic and generous. It’s specific subject matter (generally male workers from Portugal, Turkey and Greece moving to France and Germany) may be a little out of date, but the overarching theme of the trials and stresses and strains of being an immigrant is clearly relevant now. There is no real mention of refugees as such, or women and children, but if you want to try to understand what an immigrant may have to deal with when coming to a new country, you should read this book.
"The Seventh (A hetedik)" - Attila Jozsef (1905 - 1937)
If you set out in this world, better be born seven times. Once, in a house on fire, once, in a freezing flood, once, in a wild madhouse, once, in a field of ripe wheat, once, in an empty cloister, and once among pigs in sty. Six babes crying, not enough: you yourself must be the seventh. When you must fight to survive, let your enemy see seven. One, away from work on Sunday, one, starting his work on Monday, one, who teaches without payment, one, who learned to swim by drowning, one, who is the seed of a forest, and one, whom wild forefathers protect, but all their tricks are not enough: you yourself must be the seventh. If you want to find a woman, let seven men go for her. One, who gives heart for words, one, who takes care of himself, one, who claims to be a dreamer, one, who through her skirt can feel her, one, who knows the hooks and snaps, one, who steps upon her scarf: let them buzz like flies around her. You yourself must be the seventh. If you write and can afford it, let seven men write your poem. One, who builds a marble village, one, who was born in his sleep, one, who charts the sky and knows it, one, whom words call by his name, one, who perfected his soul, one, who dissects living rats. Two are brave and four are wise; You yourself must be the seventh. And if all went as was written, you will die for seven men. One, who is rocked and suckled, one, who grabs a hard young breast, one, who throws down empty dishes, one, who helps the poor win; one, who worked till he goes to pieces, one, who just stares at the moon. The world will be your tombstone: you yourself must be the seventh.
Sexually fluid Saturday
etc etc etc
Not simply cut grass
Damp at the roots
Rising to dry at the sharp end
Cut and laid
Blanket skin shed
Wet from morning
Dry through afternoon
Sunshine drawing the smell
From stringent root to sweetened tip
New Work – “Watching a Building in the Liri Valley For the Length of Time it Took Norman McCaig to Write One Good Poem” 2012
Here is a short video work made last week while doing some research in Italy, around the Molise region and more specifically Filignano. This video was shot from the destroyed village of San Pietro Infine.
This is a great film – there is no dialogue, its very calm and considered (perhaps slow) but after about 25 mins there is an incredible, pivotal scene which I have never seen the like of before. This is an investigation into our relationship with the environment around us, and a poetic study of the possibilities of reincarnation. Watch it, if you’re in the right mood to contemplate things. It’s beautifully shot too.