Remembering David Pike


Eugenio Battaglia:

Let me begin by paying homage to the great David Pike. I was for a short time in contact with him off-Forum and I came to appreciate his great historical knowledge. I
had the pleasure and privilege of sending him a book with the short
autobiography of a 16-year-old Italian volunteer in the Repubblica Sociale Italiana, who reached the rank of Sergeant and obtained a German Cross for his valor. He fought until the very last day of the war. Such a book apparently was of his interest.
Although his great books were not related to Italy, David wanted to give his authoritative word also on this nation.Five years ago I wanted to respond to David's essay on Trieste, which John E recently republished:

David called the Allied Government of Trieste a mission of goodwill.
It may have been so for him, but for the two governments it was a cynical geopolitical operation to simultaneously win both Italy and Tito to their side.

After 1940 the UK promised Istria to Yugoslavia, according to the talks with their Ambassadors in Moscow.

In the final phase of WWII, the collaborationist Italian government of the South in a
secret accord with the Forces of the Republica Sociale Italiana in
Istria proposed a plan for an Italian-Allied landing in Istria
to save the Italian population of the region, but the UK vetoed this plan.

Then after the War, the Free Territory of Trieste was divided in Zones A and B. This was a bargaining chip to keep Italy in the West. See the Tripartite declaration of the UK, US, and France to return the whole Free Territory to Italy on 20 March
1948, just a few days prior to the elections of 18 April 1948 when a communist victory could have been possible with a corresponding drift toward Stalin. For Tito,
having all the territory or at least part of it could have been a means to lure him away from Stalin.

Only when Italy had a government under the strong Giuseppe Pella, even ready for war, was Trieste given back to Italy. However later Italy with other (little) men in
charge, was pushed to let Tito officially annex Zone B. displacing more Italians from
their homes--many thanks, Allies!

David was correct when stating that the police were made up of Italians and Slovenians. But they were hired by the British. The only Italians hired were those
with non-irredentist beliefs. They were under the direct orders of the British. The Americans were not really detested by the Triestini, for them (though perhaps they were wrong), the Americans were the "good cops" while the British were the "bad
cops" and were detested. This does not mean personally detested, and David certainly made local friends and the single person is not the institution. Please do not think
that the Triestini were embarrassed by the "riots." They were expressions of dignity and popular will. The murdered youths became the last martyrs for the unity of Italy.

The Axis forces officially surrendered on May 2nd, 1945. This could have happened earlier, but the Allies possibly wanted the 2nd of May in order to give the
Yugoslavs the time to arrive in Trieste.

On 30 April most Germans left Trieste, a few remained in the Castle of San Giusto surrendering later to the New Zealanders. The Italian resistance took over the
town under its leaders Colonel A. Fonda and the priest Don E. Marzari.

The Yugoslavs arrived on May 1st (not 5th), and kicked out the Italian resistance and started the 40 days of terror and murder.

The New Zealanders arrived 24 hours later, completing the "race to Trieste." See the book The Race to Trieste by Geoffrey Cose, but their arrival was useless for the
persecuted Italians. In any case, Churchill called their arrival "a foot in the door."

The delayed Axis surrender and the race to Trieste seemed to be contrasting events. Perhaps there was confusion on priorities between the military and politicians.

The official newspaper of the Movimento Sociale Italiano was not Il Messaggero but Il Secolo d'Italia, first published in Rome 1952. There was also Il Messaggero Veneto printed in Friuli after 1946, but it had nothing to do with the MSI. At first, the Allies did not permit any newspaper publication in Trieste except for the Giornale Alleato (sic). Only on 5 March 1947 was an Italian newspaper allowed to appear in Trieste called Il Giornale di Trieste. It took the place of the old Il Piccolo. Only when Trieste returned to the Motherland did it take its old name again Il