Perpetrator Studies Network


A Blood Border: Trieste between Mussolini and Tito

By Luisa Morettin.

In May 1945 Trieste was the last battleground of WWII and the first of the Cold War. Some of the most terrifying episodes of that battle are linked to the Karst landscape of the region which is studded with foibe, deep cone-shaped pits excavated by water erosion. During Yugoslav partisan rule in the area, thousands of Italians were thrown inside the pits: some were killed beforehand, others were dumped alive and left to die slowly. Marshal Tito challenged these events and Left-wing sympathisers still do to this day, sparking intense debate over the truth. Were the atrocities simply revenge for the 1941 Fascist invasion of Yugoslavia?

By drawing on Anglo-American documents, A Blood Border leads the reader through the process by which the foibe killings became possible and tells the story of a modern territorial contest: two nations, one land. This powerful study is a nuanced and detailed account of Mussolini’s and Tito’s manoeuvres to redraw borders in blood. The result is a vivid and often disturbing account, in which Luisa Morettin convincingly portrays a border region in a moment of historical transformation.

Luisa Morettin has held teaching and research positions at the University of Edinburgh, King’s College London, and the University of Reading. Currently she is a Senior Lecturer in Modern History at NCI University London.