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The Gonars concentration camp was one of the several Italian concentration camps and it was established on February 23, 1942, near Gonars, Italy.

Many internees were transferred to this camp from the other Italian concentration camp, Rab concentration camp, which served as equivalent of final solution in Mario Roatta's ethnic cleansing policy against ethnic Slovenes from the Italian-occupied Province of Ljubljana and Croats from Gorski Kotar, in accord with the racist 1920s speech by Benito Mussolini, along with other Italian war crimes committed on the Italian-occupied territories of Yugoslavia:

When dealing with such a race as Slavic - inferior and barbarian - we must not pursue the carrot, but the stick policy.... We should not be afraid of new victims.... The Italian border should run across the Brenner Pass, Monte Nevoso and the Dinaric Alps.... I would say we can easily sacrifice 500,000 barbaric Slavs for 50,000 Italians....

—Benito Mussolini, speech held in Pula, 22 February 1922[1][2][3]

The first transport of 5,343 internees (1,643 of whom were children) arrived two days after its establishment, on February 23, 1942, from the Province of Ljubljana and from the other two Italian concentration camps, the Rab camp and the camp in Monigo (near Treviso).

The camp was disbanded on September 8, 1943, immediately after the Italian armistice. Every effort was made to erase any evidence of this black spot of Italian history. The camp's buildings were destroyed, the materials were used to build a nearby kindergarten and the site was turned into a meadow.[citation needed]

Only in 1973 a sacrarium was created by sculptor Miodrag Živković[citation needed] at the town's cemetery. Remains of 453 Slovenian and Croatian victims were transferred into its two underground crypts. It is believed that at least 50 additional persons died in the camp due to starvation and torture. Apart from the sacrarium no other evidence of the camp remains and even many locals are unaware of it.[citation needed]

Slovene notable inmates

  • France Balantič, a poet
  • France Bučar, a lawyer, writer, and statesman in post-1991 Slovenia
  • Alojz Gradnik, a poet
  • Bogo Grafenauer, a historian
  • Boris Kraigher, a politician from Communist era
  • Vasilij Melik, a historian
  • Frane Miličinski (pen name Ježek), a poet, actor, children's writer, and director
  • Milan Osredar, former director of the Jožef Stefan Institute
  • Jakob Savinšek, a sculptor and poet
  • Peter Starič, researcher at the Jožef Stefan Institute
  • Bojan Štih, a literary critic, essayist, and stage director
  • Anton Vratuša, a politician from Communist era
  • Aleš Strojnik, a scientist and educator
  • Vitomil Zupan, a writer


  • Alessandra Kersevan (2008): Lager italiani. Pulizia etnica e campi di concentramento fascisti per civili jugoslavi 1941-1943. Editore Nutrimenti,
  • Alessandra Kersevan (2003): Un campo di concentramento fascista. Gonars 1942-1943., Kappa Vu Edizioni, Udine.
  • Nadja Pahor Verri (1996): Oltre il filo : storia del campo di internamento di Gonars, 1941-1943, Arti Grafiche Friulane, Udine.
  • Luca Baldissara, Paolo Pezzino (2004): Crimini e memorie di guerra: violenze contro le popolazioni e politiche del ricordo, L'Ancora del Mediterraneo. ISBN 978-88-8325-135-1

Further reading

In popular culture

  • Toffolo, Davide (2010): L'inverno d'Italia (In English: "Italian winter", translated in Slovene under the title "Italijanska zima",[4] a graphic novel about two children interned at Gonars), Coconino Press.
  • Minigutti, Dorino (2009): Beyond the wire (In Slovene: "Onstran žice"), a documentary film, Gorizia.[5]

See also


External links

Coordinates: 45°54′25.4″N 13°14′13.63″E / 45.907056°N 13.2371194°E / 45.907056; 13.2371194

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