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Last Updated: Monday, 7 February, 2005, 11:34 GMT
Italian TV drama opens old wounds
By Mark Duff
BBC News, Milan

An Italian television history drama is poised to rekindle painful memories and political grievances in Italy and some of its former Communist neighbours.

The drama recalls a particularly barbaric episode from the dark days of World War II and the East-West Cold War that followed.

Between 1943 and 1947, thousands of Italians were dragged from their homes by Yugoslav partisans.

They were bound and thrown, sometimes alive, into deep chasms known as foibe.

The killings occurred along the Istrian peninsula - which fell to Italy at the end of World War I - but was then lost to Yugoslavia at the end of World War II.

Before the partisans arrived, Italian fascists had tried, brutally, to Italianise the area - a harbinger of the ethnic cleansing that was to return years later with the disintegration of Yugoslavia.

National commemoration

The sheer horror of what happened - and its political echo from one generation to another - is what gives the episode its emotional charge.

Long before the series was anywhere near screening, it provoked angry words from both Croatia and Slovenia - two of the countries that emerged from the break-up of Yugoslavia.

Italy's communications minister - himself a member of the National Alliance, a party which grew out of fascism - accused Italy's young neighbours of refusing to confront the issue.

Some suspect the series of being an attempt to rewrite history; others say it is time to remember a period long hidden for reasons of domestic and international political expediency. Be that as it may, Italians will this week hold the first ever national day of commemoration for victims of the foibe.

The first part of the drama, called Il Cuore nel Pozzo, was broadcast on Sunday night, while the second will go on air on Monday.



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