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Labin / Albona

23 August 2024
Waters
Borders
Conflicts
Traditions
Estrangements

Program

9:30 p.m. start of the performance in Labin Old Town as part of Labin festival - ulica Nike Katunara, Stari Grad, 52220 Labin

event language: Croatian

information: +386 30313488

thanks to: Grad Labin, Labin Festival, Loredana Ružić Modrušan

When the mines of the Arsa basin passed into Italian hands, in the aftermath of the First World War, the situation for the miners worsened significantly. In February 1921 the new ownership, Società Anonima Carbonifera Arsa, decided not to pay the monthly efficiency bonus to the workers in retaliation for their choice to celebrate the Candlemas holiday as they had always done, in contravention of the new rules.

The trade union leader Giovanni/Ivan Pippan went to Trieste to start a negotiation, but in addition to not obtaining any concessions, on the way back he was harshly beaten by a fascist squad. The miners responded by occupying the mines, self-managing production and organizing, with the help of some local farmers, a guard house which they called the Red Guard, to defend the population. 

This is how the Labinska Republika/Republic of Labin was born, and it would last for 35 days, from March 2nd to April 8th 1921. Inspired by the motto Kova je naša/The mine is ours, the Republic would see the participation of Italians, Croatians, Slovenians, Slovaks and Hungarians in what can be considered the first anti-fascist revolt in the world. 

“During the civil war various Syrian sailors who arrived here at the port on the fjord climbed over the fences seeking refuge in Labin. I remember one in particular, a certain Muḥammad. He was an extroverted guy who, without knowing a word of Croatian, managed to be loved by everyone. Unfortunately at a certain point he decided to return to Syria to his family. We never saw him again and other sailors told us that he was killed in the conflict." While the local guide, Mladen Bajramović, speaks to me, I think for a moment about Giovanni/Ivan Pippan, victim of an ambush on his way back from Trieste, and then of the Muḥammad of our performance, who also fled the Syrian civil war, a revolution that ended even worse, much worse, than the Republic of Labin.

I’m in front of the Arsa fjord once again. Besides the delta of the Timavo, it’s a second possible arrival point by sea of the Argonauts eager to return, and for a moment I too am overcome by nostalgia, without knowing exactly what for. My phone rings, it's my father: "How's it going there?" “All right, I'm on a trip to Labin, Albona, in Istria” “Albona? You know that Francesco Da Gioz, Checo from Roe Alte, one of the first anti-fascist partisans here in our region, before the war he had gone precisely to Albona to be a miner and even became commander in the Red Guard of the Republic of Albona?!?!”. No dad, I didn't know... but the desire to create an Afroasiatic Europe is increasingly stronger.