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Free State of Fiume

Free State of Fiume
Stato libero di Fiume
Slobodna Država Rijeka
Fiumei Szabad Állam
Freistaat Fiume



Capital Fiume
Languages official
Italian · Hungarian · German

Venetian · Chakavian Croatian
Government Republic
 •  1921–1922 Riccardo Zanella
 •  1922–1923 Giovanni Giuriati
Military Governor
 •  1923–1924 Gaetano Giardino
Historical era Interwar period
 •  Treaty of Rapallo 12 November 1920
 •  Control established 30 December 1920
 •  Coup d'état 3 March 1922
 •  Annexed by the Kingdom of Italy 22 February 1924
Currency Fiume krone (until 1920)
Italian lira (after 1920)
Today part of  Croatia

The Free State of Fiume (pronounced ) was an independent free state which existed between 1920 and 1924. Its territory of 28 km2 (11 sq mi) comprised the city of Fiume (now in Croatia and, since the end of World War II, known as Rijeka) and rural areas to its north, with a corridor to its west connecting it to Italy.


  • History 1
  • Politics 2
  • Aftermath 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


Fiume gained autonomy for the first time in 1719 when it was proclaimed a free port of the Holy Roman Empire in a decree issued by the Emperor Charles VI. In 1776, during the reign of the Empress Maria Theresa, the city was transferred to the Kingdom of Hungary and in 1779 gained the status of Corpus separatum within that Kingdom. The city briefly lost its autonomy in 1848 after being occupied by the Croatian ban (viceroy) Josip Jelačić, but regained it in 1868 when it rejoined the Kingdom of Hungary, again as a corpus separatum. Until 1924, Fiume existed for practical purposes as an autonomous entity with elements of statehood.

In the 19th century, the city was populated mostly by Italians, and as minorities by Croats and Hungarians, and other ethnicities. National affiliations changed from census to census, as at that time "nationality" was defined mostly by the language a person spoke. The special status of the city, being placed between different states, created a local identity among the majority of the population. The official languages in use were Italian, Hungarian, and German; most of the business correspondence was carried out in Italian, while most families spoke a local dialect, a blend of Venetian with a few words of Croatian.[1] In the countryside outside the city, a particular kind of Croatian Chakavian dialect with many Italian and Venetian words was spoken.


After the

  • Fiume and the Adriatic Problem by Douglas Wilson Johnson
  • Societa di studi Fiumani

External links

  1. ^ Il nuovo Samani: Dizionario del dialetto fiumano (Rome: Società di Studi Fiumani, 2007)
  2. ^ , 1919PeacemakingHarold G. Nicolson,
  3. ^ Ljubinka Toševa-Karpowicz, D'Annunzio u Rijeci : mitovi, politika i uloga masonerije, Rijeka, Izdavački centar Sušak, Biblioteka Dokumenti ; sv. 23, 2007. The author, however, does not quote any source for this claim.
  4. ^ International Law Reports by H. Lauterpacht, C. J. Greenwood, p. 430
  5. ^ Routledge Companion to Central and Eastern Europe Since 1919Adrian Webb,
  6. ^ International Law Reports by H. Lauterpacht, C. J. Greenwood, p. 430-31
  7. ^ Mihael Sobolevski, Luciano Giuricin, Il Partito Comunista di Fiume, (1921-1924): Documenti-Građa, Centro di ricerche storiche Rovigno, Fiume: Centar za historiju radničkog pokreta i NOR-a Istre, 1982, p. 20-21.
  8. ^ Massagrande, Danilo L., Italia e Fiume 1921-1924: dal 'Natale di sangue' all'annessione, Milano, Cisalpino – Goliardica Istituto Editoriale, 1982.
  9. ^ Liburnia was the designation of the region in Antiquity.
  10. ^ Plovanić, Mladen: Liburnisti i autonomaši 1943-1944, Dometi god. XIII. br. 3-4-5, pp. 51-54 and nr. 6, pp. 68-96, Rijeka 1980.
  11. ^ Ballarini, Amleto. L’antidannunzio a Fiume – Riccardo Zanella, Trieste: Edizioni Italo Svevo, 1995.
  12. ^ , Rigocamerano 2001La questione di Fiume dal 1943 al 1945E.Primeri,
  13. ^ , Del Bianco 20051945-1947, anni difficili (...)M.Dassovich,
  14. ^ , Mursia 2002Infoibati (1943-1945): i nomi, i luoghi, i testimoni, i documentiG. Rumici,


See also

The Yugoslavian authorities, who took over the city from German occupation on 3 May 1945, objected to these plans. The leaders of the autonomists – Nevio Skull, Mario Blasich and Sergio Sincich – were killed.[12][13][14] With the Paris Peace Treaty of 1947, Rijeka and Istria officially became part of Yugoslavia.

With the surrender of Italy in World War II, the Rijeka issue resurfaced. In 1944, a group of citizens issued the "Liburnia Memorandum"[9] in which it was recommended that a confederate state be formed from the three cantons of Fiume, Sušak and Ilirska Bistrica. The islands of Krk (Veglia), Cres (Cherso) and Lošinj (Lussino) would enter the common condominium as well.[10] President Zanella of the government-in-exile still sought the re-establishment of the Free State.[11]


In January 1924, the Kingdom of Italy and the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes signed the Treaty of Rome (27 January 1924), agreeing to the annexation of Fiume by Italy and the absorption of Sušak by the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes; this took effect on 16 March. The government-in-exile of the Free State considered this act invalid and non-binding under international law and continued its activities.[8]

[7] After the proclamation of the Rapallo Treaty, the

A group of D'Annunzio loyalists seized part of the town, until they were in turn pushed out in September. In October the autonomist Riccardo Zanella was appointed provisional president; his rule lasted until 3 March 1922, when Italian Fascists carried out a coup d'état and the legal government escaped to Kraljevica. On 6 March, the Italian government was asked to restore order and Italian troops entered the city on 17 March. They returned control to the minority of the constituent assembly, who were loyal to the Italian annexationists.[6]

Control over the Free State was in an almost constant state of flux. Following the departure of D'Annunzio's troops in December 1920, the Italian National Council of Fiume re-assumed control and appointed a provisional government. A pact with the local Italian commander handed control to the military on January 18, 1921, but this lasted just three days before a nationalist rebellion. They appointed an extraordinary government, which fell two days later. In June 1921 an Italian Royal Commissioner was appointed, whose control lasted two weeks.

In April 1921, the electorate approved the plan for a free state and for a consortium to run the port.[5] The first parliamentary elections were held, contested between the autonomists and the pro-Italian National Bloc. The Autonomist Party, which was supported by votes from the majority of the Croats, gained 6,558 votes, while the National Bloc, composed of Fascist, Liberal and Democratic parties, received 3,443 votes. The leader of the Autonomist Party, Riccardo Zanella, became the President.

On 12 November 1920, the Kingdom of Italy and the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes signed the Treaty of Rapallo by which both parties agreed to acknowledge "the complete freedom and independence of the State of Fiume and oblige to respect it for eternity". With this act the "Free State of Fiume" was created, which, it turned out, would exist as an independent state for about one year de facto, and four years de jure. The newly created state was immediately recognized by the United States, France and the United Kingdom. D'Annunzio refused to acknowledge the Agreement and was expelled from the city by the regular forces of the Italian Army, in the "Bloody Christmas" actions from the 24th to the 30th of December 1920.[4]

10 Fiume krone provisional banknote (1920)
10 Fiume krone provisional banknote (1920)

The dispute led to lawlessness, and the city changed hands between a South-Slav National Committee and an Italian National Council, leading finally to the landing of British and French troops who took over the city. The National Council over-stamped Austro-Hungarian notes – the Fiume Krone - were used as official currency. This confusing situation was exploited by the Italian poet Gabriele D'Annunzio, who entered the city on 12 September 1919 and began a 15-month period of occupation. A year later after failure of negotiations with the Italian government, D'Annunzio proclaimed the Italian Regency of Carnaro.


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