The paper will present women as perpetrators of violence in the Julian March (Venezia Giulia) during the early post-war period, namely, one of the most prominent cases, i.e., that of Maria Pasquinelli (1913–2013). Before the Second World War, in 1933, she joined the Fascist movement; subsequently, she was very active during the war, helping Italian circles that remained loyal to Mussolini even after 8 September 1943. On the one hand, she sought to document the violence against the Italians in Istria perpetuated by the Yugoslav partisans; on the other, she attempted to convince the anti-communist Italian military forces (both partisans of the Osoppo formation and members of the Fascist X MAS formation) to oppose the advance of Tito’s partisans. After the war, on 10 February 1947, she assassinated the British General Robert William Michael de Winton in Pola (Pula). This was an act of protest because the Allies granted the city to Yugoslavia. Maria Pasquinelli was sentenced to death by the Allied authorities in 1949 and was imprisoned for 15 years, whereupon she was released by way of presidential pardon. From the trial in 1947 onwards, many newspapers and, consequently, a part of the public opinion in Italy interpreted his extreme gesture as an act of extreme sacrifice to demonstrate the great injustice suffered by Italians in Istria. Also, thanks to the case of Maria Pasquinelli the real historical causes and thus the responsibilities for the Second World War did not come to the surface to a sufficient degree.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Gorazd Bajc is Professor of European History and History of the Balkans at the University of Maribor, Faculty of Arts, where he is also the Vice-Dean for research activities. In the period 2018–2020 he collaborated as a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Arts (as part of ERC Advanced Grant project EIRENE, project leader Prof. Marta Verginella). The focus of his research and teaching lies in diplomacy and international relations, particularly the history of intelligence services and of the break-up of Yugoslavia, the history of anti-fascism, of Slovenian/Yugoslav–Italian relations, of dissidence and violence, as well as the legal situation of the Slovene minority in Italy. In 2017 the European Commission awarded him the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions Seal of Excellence.