The historical themes of Rijeka really do have their audience and this was shown by the full hall of the City Museum of Rijeka where on 16th June Sabrina Žigo’s book Sušak – Rijeka 1948. Borderline was presented.
The book is dedicated to the unification of Rijeka and Sušak after the Second World War. As Maja Polić PhD emphasised at the presentation, this was the most important event in the 20th century of the city’s history. In her view, the book follows the sequence of events from the time when Rijeka was transformed from an imperial Austro-Hungarian port into a provincial Italian city and, symbolically, to the post-war establishment of the Rijeka and Sušak City Physical Education Committee as the first joint institution of the then two cities. Unification is an ideological act of final victory over an enemy, Polić said.
In her address to the audience, the author of the book, Žigo, stated that the book is dedicated to a theme that could not be more “Rijeka” for the City Museum, and as such more sought after. However, at the same time, it is very sensitive, due to the possibility of various approaches to the events, depending on their past actors and subsequent interpretations. In preparing the book about an ideologically loaded theme, she tried to be as de-ideologised as possible.
The book has 90 pages and is richly illustrated with documentary material about the removal of the state border between Italy and Yugoslavia, which painfully divided the city into two parts between the two wars. It did just as much as the wall erected between the two parts of Berlin did after the Second World War. The border disappeared after the difficult battle for Rijeka, when the city was annexed to Yugoslavia, which also meant Croatia, via diplomatic means by the Peace Treaty concluded in Paris in 1947 two years after the end of the war. This enabled the administrative unification of Sušak and Rijeka into one city under international law, which happened in February 1948.
The subtitle of the book Borderline does not refer symbolically solely to the specific border on the Rječina, in a broader sense it points to the layering of the accompanying events behind which stood the imperial interest in reaching for someone else’s territory. The influences of the great powers and states, as well as the consequent interpretation and implementation of international law and state law issues of the conflicting parties, were crucial.