Antonio Vatta

* 1935

  • "I would like to send a message that it is not true that we hate. Someone can hate the Slavs, the Croats and the others, as the Croats will hate us because of what they have suffered. I know what the Italians did there, because my father told me when he came home, the roundup, this and that, so we knew everything. The fault lies with the damned who declared war. ´Wars bring nothing but hunger and terror,´ sang the anarchists and ´God damn the war, the ministers and all those who invented it,´ we always sang with the old Fiumani (people from Rijeka). It is the truth, the ´bigs´ make wars and the people suffer those wars on their backs, with deaths and abandonment."

  • "Remember that we have opted to leave, because when someone says: ´They chased you away´, it's not like they chased us away with a rifle. ´Stay here and you will become a Yugoslav citizen, if you want to go away you have to opt for that and sign that you are going away. ´ If you signed up to leave, you lost all your work rights, one thing and the other… So I always say that we left on our own accord because we wanted to keep our citizenship, or better, our nationality. Because one can acquire citizenship, but can’t acquire nationality. We in Zadar became Italians only after the war of 1915-1918 (First World War). Before that we were Venetians, then we were Austrian for 700 years, but before that we were Venetians. Our culture was Venetian so we wanted to keep this culture and since we had acquired that nationality (Italian) we wanted to keep that nationality too."

  • "After the first bombing in 1943, in December Zadar was already getting empty. Because they made the first bombing in November, then another bombing in December or at the end of November. Zadar as a territory was not big… and the first ones from Zadar left on the ´Sansego´, which was a ship, in December 1943. Then (others left) in 1944, in the spring. The shore was full of household goods because they took everything with them. My dad worked in the prefecture and so we stayed until the end because my mom didn't want to leave. Then, in the end, on October 30th 1944, my dad came home on his bicycle and asked me where mum was ... (and told me ) to go call her because we're going away ... I went to call her and we took what there was to take, a suitcase in our hand and the rags we had on and we went away. We boarded a destroyer. The prefecture was leaving with all the officials and it was the last chance to leave, with the prefect and everyone ... when we arrived in front of the island of Pag they started firing on the ship from the ground and the ship began to respond … We managed to pass and arrived in Rijeka."

  • "In 1943 we had the first bombing. I was in second grade. On November 2nd, they started bombing at night and for two hours they came and went, and bombed Zadar. Today, the football games are played at night you know, and it looks like daylight. I remember that then, all at once, the whole city was illuminated. We, who were ignorant of those things, said: ´The city caught fire! The city caught fire!´. And my dad, who arrived home, said: ´No, they are throwing the rockets and soon they will bomb.´ And so it happened. And they bombed, and the first bomb that fell, fell on my school."

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    Torino, Italia, 18.07.2021

    duration: 50:43
    media recorded in project Inconvenient Mobility
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A Zadar exile in Italy: “Hate the war but not those, who suffer under it!”

Antonio Vatta, Torino, 2021
Antonio Vatta, Torino, 2021
photo: natáčení

Antonio Vatta was born in Zadar/Zara in 1935. His parents, of Italian and Slavic ethnicity, came from the Island of Ugjlan, not far from the city. The city of Zadar was multicultural, prosperous, and very important for the whole of Dalmatia. Vatta lived there until the age of 9 years. On 30th November 1944, after the first bombings in Zadar, the Vatta family left the city. After various resettlements, troubles, and temporary separation from the farther, for a time prisoner in Susak, the Vattas finally settled in Turin, Italy in 1951. In the Piedmontese capital, Antonio met his future wife, an exile from Rijeka, and they both become workers in famous Turinese factories. Antonio fought for more rights and protections to the refugees and exiles of the Second World War in Italy. In 1997, thanks to a law that Vatta promoted himslef, the refugees were given the chance to buy their homes from the State at a reduced price. Beyond activism for war refugees, Antonio Vatta dedicates most of his time to telling his life experience in schools. His message for the students is to hate the war and the powerful people who promote it, not the ones who suffered just like him. After a period of refusal, he visited Zadar in 1983. He keeps returning there very often, fighting his nostalgia towards his childhood in Dalmatia.