Action #10: Il Porto dell’amore

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The Office of Surprise Attacks and the Office of Fakes

The situation of the soldiers in Fiume was by no means ideal. They were still wearing their summer uniforms, and the summary provisions that the army of legionnaires received came from the raids adroitly performed in the surrounding areas, by land and sea. (...)
There was an atmosphere of such recklessness, and such a love for anything adventurous, that a playful proposal from the Commander led to the creation of a particular Office, immediately dubbed the UCM - Ufficio Colpi di Mano (the Office of Surprise Attacks). Alongside this another office was rapidly established. This was the UF, standing for Ufficio Falsi – Office of Forgeries – which, with the help of associated typesetters and consenting stamp manufacturers, managed to produce all kinds of forged papers, even passports, which were such perfect copies that they convinced even the shrewdest of inspectors. In charge of the UCM was the aviator Guido Keller, the Commander’s histrionic, brilliant and loyal collaborator.

Tratto da Mussolini e d’Annunzio. Il fotomontaggio sulla lettera di insulti del poeta

Guido Keller

The economy
The economy of the “city of life” was also particular: the government of Fiume did not get its revenues from taxes and duties, but from the loot of the Uscocchi and donations from generous supporters, both anonymous and illustrious. Commemorating the feats of the Uscocchi, 16th century pirates of the Balkans, D’Annunzio used the same name for his legionnaires, who were ready for anything and specialized in surprise attacks by sea and land.

(Lorenza Gasparoli, Ma D’Annunzio era no-global?, A - rivista anarchica, anno 33 n. 288, marzo 2003)
Fiume lived entirely thanks to its port. The blockade paralyzed the city, and death by anaemia is a slow one. Warehouses without goods in transit, dealers without work, sailors without ships, ship-owners bankrupted: everywhere work ground to a halt, and there were shortages. Hunger and ill health visited the poor, and the rich represented a temptation. The situation opened the way to shady dealings and inadmissible markets: speculation, deception, barter and swindling were rife. People had to try and make a living some way, by trading, or rather profiteering.

(Léon Kochnitzky, La Quinta Stagione o I Centauri di Fiume, Bologna, Zanichelli, 1922; pag. 35).
 The Persia Affair

On October 10, 1919 the Italian cargo ship Persia was commandeered and sailed to Fiume. The Persia was a unique prize, for it had been heavily laden with arms and munitions for the White Army in Russia and was to have sailed to Vladivostok for use in the war against the Bolsheviks. The maritime worker’s union, the Federazione della gente di mare, after vainly attempting to convince the government not to supply the reactionary Russian forces with Italian arms, had its men take command of the ship in the straits of Messina and set a course for D’Annunzio’s City of the Holocaust. No less than thirteen tons of military supplies thus found their way into the warehouses of the Command, and the city welcomed Captain Giuseppe Giulietti and the crew of the Persia with a celebration on the evening of the fourtheenth.
Giulietti was the leader of the gente di mare, and he had given the ordes to the hijacking of the ship to Fiume. For him, the maneuver served not only to demonstrate his organization’s opposition to the supplying of the White Army but also to pressure the government into making various concessions to the maritime workers.

(Michael Arthur Ledeen, D'Annunzio: The First Duce, Transaction Publishers, Piscataway, NJ, 2002, p. 116)

At the time the press reported the dynamics of the action with many inaccuracies, so to shed light on events Captain Giulietti had fliers printed with the following statement:
(...) The means that were to be used to strive for the freedom and redemption of the Russian people will be used to fight for the freedom and redemption of the people of Fiume (...) We are not working for any particular man in government, but for an idea of human justice that makes us love our neighbours as we love ourselves, without distinctions of nationality and class. To the revolutionaries in name only, to sectarians on all sides, and to those sad individuals who have been stupidly attacking our action in newspapers of a different bias, we show the steamship Persia moored in the port of Fiume, flying the maritime federal flag. In time, when the censorship ceases, we will provide a full account of events, indicating for the admiration of the proletariat the names of the brave companions who wrote a triumphant page of maritime history on board the Persia.
Giuseppe Giulietti
Giuseppe Giulietti, presidente dell'Associazione Lavoratori del Mare

(Ferdinando Gerra, L’impresa di Fiume. I: Fiume d’Italia, Longanesi, Milano, 1974, pp. 151-153.)


Introduction [HTML]

The “Celebration City” [HTML]
Free Love and Artificial Paradises [HTML]
The “Desperados” [HTML]
International acknowledgement [HTML]
Pirate Economy [HTML]
Publishing [HTML]
The Charter of Carnaro [HTML]
The Labarum [HTML]
The League of Fiume [HTML]
Bloody Christmas [HTML]
Protagonists [HTML]