Lino Kmet

* 1941

  • - Me and another man who had uncle in France. We wanted to go directly to France, without any stop in Trieste, in that camp. - "In San Saba? - In San Saba, yes. We went directly to France. I was working and I had some money saved , so we could pay for train tickets all the way till Ventimiglie. So we went. In order to get out of Pula we needed a good plan. We took a train and bought a ticket to Vodnjan. As we started our way, we have been already, already controled. “Documents? Where are you going to?”, and we said: “ We are on our way to Vodnjan, here is a ticket.” In Vodnjan we get off the train and waited for a bus to Buzet. Then in the bus no one controlled us anymore. When we were in Buzet we went to restaurant an old house. Today everything is new, don´t know if still exist. - In Buzet is a new bus station, there is no old one anymore. - Yes, we get off where this big inn was, it was down. One old dirty road was there which use to led to Koper. - And that was it, we came there during day, came to eat something in this restaurant, and already saw that one man who let say “sent” us, that we want to escape. He aproach to us and he said:” You are running away”, my colleague answer:” Yes, yes”. “ Good”, he said, “when night fell, come here, I will take you to the crossing point and I know where it is.” My colleague told him:” Yes, yes, yes, yes.” - When we eat, we went further away, into the hidden part of forest into the bushes and stayed there and waited for night to fell. My companion said:” He said to go there and he will take us”. I told him:” You are stupid!” If he will take you across, he will take you to the area I have already done. So, we waited night to fell, and then, took this dirt road, today probably is asphalted road. I know there was some spring of fresh water down there. After, I have never been taking this road again, one day I will I hope. And every time when a car supposed to passed, we were prepared to hide. So, that all night we were walking and not any car has been passed through. For that reason we choose night. Not one single car, not a lorry, nothing has passed along this road that night. It means, the offer to help us was just a bait to catch us. And I, tell you, we came to this factory. I do not know what kind was. So, we passed behind. - That is in Koper? - That is in Koper. All night we walk. -From Buzet to Koper you walked? - From Buzet to Koper. - Through the bushes? -No, we took the road! - To dirt road? - To dirt road. And every time when a car supposed to passed, we were prepared to hide. Otherwise they could catch us. Then we went to this famouse factory, we did had some hear – say directions, how to escape, and when came behind, we saw we are close as the army start to move from watching point. As I said before, we went behind this wall, and we hide. Then we and came behind the barrack and listen what they were saying, as window was open, because it was a summer time. So, we came to a valley and there we are! Then we were saved. We came to Italy. Over there one Italian farmer was cultivating, so when he saw us he asked us do we have any cigarette. We gave him a cigarette so he gave us a few liras. Then we came to Trieste, we bought a ticket for a train to Ventimiglia, where we came. In Ventimiglia uncle waited for my colleague, with motor bike. Uncle went with him on a motor bike, and drive away to Nice. Me, I was left there alone."

  • - " You have been with some friends. Do you remember them? - Off course! One of them live in New York today, his name is Skira, one in Italy, other in Pula, and the other, his name is Romano, but we call him Kure and his brothers are from Marčana. - Let me ask you a question, after prison you did stay in town for a while? - I was followed, you know, when I escaped for the first time and got caught and they had to let me go, yes, I was followed, I had my own, I use to call him an guardian angel. One police officer, he was toll, skinny and then at the end we became friends. Yes, when I went to Circolo to the City center, he was there, when I went to Uljanik, he was there, when go to Kaštanjer, he was all the time behind me. - How did they treated you, let say, the other friends, when you get out of prison? - Nothing, normally. - Did they look at you in a different way? - No, normally. - Like a hero maybe? - Noo, normally. People who had a possibility to escape and those who did not care. No, first time we went from Škofije as we saw the border was there. And the next time we got more informations from the others who use to escape already, and got caught, like me. - So, you say there was some catch? - Yes, there was one, one catch, I do not know have you heard a story when a man run away with a help of a donkey. No, not heard? - No. - O my Good, when he was close to the watchtower, where I was, he put a bell around donkey¨s neck and then I do not know what else he has done, but he hit the donkey to run. So, this soldiers went in a search for a donkey and then he escape. There are a lot of this catches for escape. - Tell us more if you have! - There was, I can´t remember now, but this one with a donkey was a catch to talk about. - Wrealy? - Yes. - Well done! - Yes. And others who use to escape by boat. I had one friend and after this I have never heard about him again. I do not know if he is still alive, or not. I have heard, this is probably true, maybe already you have heard about it, these people who escape in patrol boat . - Stella? - We called it. - When he saw them, he heped them and let them go. - About this event mr. Korado Pauleta wrote. - It could be. - He did wrote about it, it is in his book, in one chapter of his book, about ship Stella. He also wrote about the event when people escaped from Ribarska Koliba. Intentionally they positioned Istrian people on those patrol boats or Dalamatians to whom fascists, you know, have done something to their father. And then for a revenge they have done this. This man, Korado Pauleta has described this event in his book. - It can be as I heard, while was here, before escape second time."

  • -" Where did you get the idea to escape? - My idea to go away was not because I could not find a work as I was working, but if you want to do something, always you have been asked : “Are you in the Party or not?” That was what irritated me. I am not an expert but in my soul this disturbed me. - You were disturbed when someone else impose other opinion or if other person who is not competent? - Yes. I remember exactly some things which they didn´t let you go if you are not a member of a Party. I was not a Party member. For this reason my friends and I started to use the word:” Kommunist!” That we use to yell, when they did not allow us to the dance for example. - ” Kommunist!” - I remember this so clear. I can guarantee. - Great! Good. You did not finished a school year as you run away. - No, I did not finished it, no. Then I came back to Pula and start to work. - Can you please, tell us this story when you came back to Pula and how did you first time escape and got caught? - They caught us because we were naïve, went on a road that led to the border and they, they caught us. They caught us in Sežana and from there we went to some place, near Ljubljana, to the place called Brestolica, Brestonica, some place named like that I think. - There is Brestovica? - Brestovica! - Brestovica, do you know how I know? One digression: there is one inn, very Popular. - Don´t know. I was in prison. From there we have been transported to Zagreb, from Zagreb to Rika(Rijeka), from Rike by boat to Pula, and when we came to Pula, there were already about, all together maybe 10 of us. As they did not know where the police headquarter was I lead them through Giardini, center City. We were tethered like this and on the way everybody who knew me and saw me use ti say: „ciao Lino, ciao Lino“. So, this time has passed, but then I have done something even worse, normally. As I was under aged, not 18 yet and when I run away for the first time, they had to let me go. And they told me: “Next time you escape, let me know if you succeed.” Ironically, I did succeed."

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    Pula, 12.07.2012

    duration: 33:28
    media recorded in project Iron Curtain Stories
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Whitout been member of a Communist party I couldn t even enter to the dance club

brioni, želj zavjesa i frendič 076.JPG (historic)
Lino Kmet
photo: Snimljeno prilikom intervjua

Lino Kmet was born in Pula in 1941. His father was Antun and mother was Ana. Lino had two brothers but they were killed with their father during II World War. After this tragedy Lino and his mother were alone. When war ended life was very difficult to live. He recalls that he was very often so hungry as he and his mother did not had any food to eat. Lino went to school in Pula but he was not very good at it. First time he decided to run away across the border with his friends because they need an adventure. But they were naive and too young so they have been captured at the border. All of them were deported back to Pula prison. As he was underage they had to let him go but still, Lino was followed by an policeman 24 hours a day. When he decided to run away again he talked with couple of men who use to try to go and got a few tricks for his successful getaway.  This time he was better prepared. For his escape he found a partner. Their plan was to cross italian border and catch a train for Ventimiglie. They wanted to avoid refugee camp in San Saba and to go directly to France. Lino was so determined to go away as he realised, in that time, you were unabeled to achieve anything if you have not been a member of the Party. When he came to Nice his uncles helped him to start a new life. He was working and having fun. He married with french woman and they lived in Nice. In 1972. they are comming back to live in Pula.  Today they live in Pula in house where Lino was born.