Petar Cukon

* 1922

  • „It was in autumn 1941. It can be seen on every step. That was told to us by our troops from Medulin to whom we made contact. Italian army was on the streets in Ljubljana to search. There had already been partisans. There had already been resistance, and at nights through flyers that kind of organization Osvobodilna fronta would ask their citizens somewhere between 8 and 9 p. m. or 7 and 8 p. m., to abbandon public premises and return to their homes. During that hour no one should be on a public premise. And when that hour expires everyone should get back to the city. That was a type of quite demonstrations and even us where we lived, would take part in that...those demonstrations in evening, because then the silence would come. No one could be seen in Ljubljana, in the city and public premises.“

  • „The first remark I heard from a judge...he said: „Why did they send us that children like they are adult boys?“ We were all youthful, young and Special court deals with more serious subjects. That how he thought, he didn't want to deal with some boys but as they were commenting, one of them countered. Mi were able to listen because that to was wery near us... 3, 4, 5, meters away. Our benches were in a shape of a semicircle and down was their table. It was six or seven of them, I have list of their names. So he says: Those youngsters are dangerous, there are, there are dangerous ones.“ Anyway it ended there. They began with calls in order. One by one we would come in front of judges. He asks: „Who are you? What are you? – because it was written that we were members of organization Slavo – komunista. When I came in line one fascist general said: „What kind of Slav are you with name Cukon?“ I responded that they had changed our names, surnames. Then he angrily asked me: „Then what was your name before?“ I said: „Cokun.“ I had heard earlier that a doctor Cukon used to have his name written as Cokun (Cokun). Anyway we did, back then it was a very good excuse to prove with our surname that we are Croats although that is most certainly incorrect (his surname Cokun)..., but that came in hand as response. While I was with him, as it were, debating; one of his fascists in the Court said: „I had told you, I had told you, don't change surnames“ As if he accused him that surnames didn't had to be changed, as if that contributed to Istrian resistance against fascism.“

  • „Then after few days the Italians decided to occupy Krk so one morning, as if they had expected to meet resistance, they attacked with their machines on Krk and started to conquer the city climbing towards our boarding school which was on a high ground. That morning I saw through window a group of soldiers, Italian uniforms with rifles ready to fire aiming to the direction of our and already were in the schoolyard. I was afraid that they will enter the school building so I jumped over the wall through the opposite window. We were located next to a monastery. Over that wall I jumped into their yard and hid. During peaceful times, here we were doing our belfry duty. The oldest of us reported as volunteers. In case of an aerial attack we were supposed to alarm people so they can withdraw outside the city. So in that...after short period of time I realised that nothing was happening. I peeked out a little – it was a high wall and saw in the distance the Italians going up the hill. I saw they didn't enter out boarding school. I came back and realised that we weren't their targets but they probably had other assignments.“

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    Medulin, 20.10.2015

    media recorded in project Testimonies of Istrian survivors
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With tuberculosis through fascist prisons.

Petar Cukon
Petar Cukon
photo: Archiv - Pamět národa

Petar Cukon was born in Medulin in 1922 where he finished Italian primary school. He was born in a farming family which was oriented towards Yugoslavism. When he was 5 years old he started helping his parents in cowherding. His father, who fought in Great War had a major influence on him. In 1933 Petar went to island of Krk where he continued his education in boarding school. There, the first simptoms of tuberculosis began to show so he received medical treatment in Sušak hospital. There he met with antifascist ideology, began to read antifascist literature and take part in political debates with his professors and colleagues. He was in Krk when Kingdom of Yugoslavia was attacked and occupied by Axis forces. Krk was occupied by the Italians. Several days after the occupuation he returned home in Medulin. He linked with with leading members of antifascist movement, Mijo Pikunić and Mario Špiler. In order to evade mobilisation to Italian army he enrolled to Faculty of Ljubljana to study medicine in autumn of 1941 and stayed until the summer of 1942. Once again he returned to Medulin and was actively involved in antifascist movement. He organized secret meetings, despached antifascist literature, wrote and distributed flyers and hid his fellow antifascits from police persecution. He was arrested in autumn of 1942 and taken to remand prison in Pula where he was inprisoned until first months of 1943. There he once again received medical treatment for tuberculosis in prison hospital. Together with a group of prisoners he wast transfered to Rome in infamous  Regina Coeli prison. Special court for state protection convicted him to 9 years in prison which he was to serve in Castelfranco prison near the city of Modena. In prison he made friends with Italian antifascists. He stayed in Castelfranco until March of 1944 when he was released together with a group of Croats thanks to Red Cross and went to Trieste and Pula. Until the end of the war he was in hospital in Pula where he was sent by medical doctor Egon Maroević to receive treatment for lung tuberculosis. There he witnessed the liberation of the city. After the war he was an alderman in Medulin but he then went to Zagreb to study medicine. After graduation he was employed in hospital in Pula where he worked until his retirement.