THE VILLAGE USTJE
WITH THE MEMORIES OF 8thAUGUST,
the first village in Primorska completely burnt down by the Italian fascists
in August 8, 1942. With the intention of preserving
the history for younger generations we should remember these sad events
which fatally signed the life of our village.Surrounded by smoke and fire,
threatened with death our parents solemnly declared August 8 the vowed
day of the village in case they survived. Reading their true stories everyone
can perceive a strong wish that such a terrible day would never come back.
The great tragedy of Ustje inspired a well-known
Slovene writer Danilo Lokar, from Ajdovscina who perfectly described it
in his short story: "The Doomsday in the Village".
WHAT WAS GOING ON IN USTJE ON 8thAUGUST,
||It was summer 1942. At that time
there were soldiers of the Italian Alpine Division Giulia (the battalion
Val Cismon) placed in the barracks of Ajdovscina. They had just come from
Greece to have a short rest before continuing their way to the Eastern
Front. The soldiers, weary of the war, looted in the villages and troubled
people, especially young girls.
||It was Sunday, 1st August when
a bigger group of soldiers came to Ustje and visited the Ladislav Stibilj’s
pub. They ordered food and drink. After some hours of drinking they broke
into the wine cellar and stole dried and smoked ham. The landlord reported
this doing to the commander of the carabineers (the Italian police) in
Ajdovscina, Marshalo Cir Pasquale Marone. By many he was respected as an
honest man. Responding to the increasing complaints of the local people
he persecuted his own fellow-countrymen, above all the soldiers of the
Alpine Division Giulia. In this way an old quarrel reappeared between Marshalo
and the lieutenant Fanelli dating back to the Marshalo’s decision of expelling
the Italian prostitutes from Ajdovscina, which was against the Fanelli’s
wishes. It is not surprising that the offended lieutenant and some soldiers
plotted against their carabineer college.
||On Friday, 7th August, a group of five Alpine soldiers
came to the Stibilj’s pub in Ustje where they drank and bowled all the
afternoon. In the evening they wanted the landlord to bring them more wine.
He did not want to obey them – it was late and the curfew had become total
– so they angrily left making uproar. The lieutenant Fanelly searched Marshalo
and found him in the cinema. He enticed him and some soldiers to Ustje
under false pretenses that there was partisans’ shooting heard there.
||In front of the village they shot
Marshalo from an ambush and dragged his dead body to the entrance of the
widow Marija Stibilj’s house. They broke into the house saying that Marshalo
had been shot from the small window of the house. The two brothers, Milan
and Anton Stibilj, who had been sleeping in the hay-barn, were accused
of killing Marshalo. They were forced to go to Ajdovscina loaded on the
Franc Cermelj’s cart together with the dead Marshalo.
||Next morning the Alpine soldiers came to Ustje and drove
the inhabitants from their homes to the small square in front of the church
where machine guns were threatening to kill them all. Pretending that they
were looking for guns the soldiers broke into houses and stole everything
that had some value. They arrested Anton Vrtovec because they had found
some rusty iron from the First World War in his house, his nephew Maks
Kante and Metod Strancar. Besides the two brothers Stibilj three more hostages
from the near-by village Slap were led: brothers Avgust and Evstahij Podgornik
and Ivan Ursic, they were accused of collaboration with partisans. The
eight victims - tied and cruelly beaten – were dragged to the west end
of the village. Nowadays a monument indicates the exact place where they
were beaten to death with rifle butts and stakes.
||The soldiers used incendiary bombs
and bullets to burn down the village, that is all together 80 houses in
Ustje and 7 houses in the near-by hamlet Uhanje. Only the church with the
priest’s house, the school and some other buildings were undamaged.
In the opinion of the villagers the worst that
could happen was prevented by the intervention of the mayor of Ajdovscina,
Rizzato. Nevertheless, people were taken to Ajdovscina and crammed into
the school. Next day the women and the children were released, whereas
men were taken to the prisons of Gorizia where they spent 40 days in uncertainty.
The eight people killed in Ustje were driven to
Gorizia and buried at the cemetery there.
Alojz Ravbar, Ustje v krvi
in ognju, Borec 1959, st. 9, str. 578 - 580
Tone Ferenc, Kazenska akcija se
je izrodila v vandalizem in ropanje, Italijanski viri o pozigu Ustja pri