July 2020

Postcard showing the burnt-down Narodni dom (Slovene Cultural Centre) in Trieste

Designed by architect Max Fabiani and built in 1904, the Narodni dom (Slovene Cultural Centre) was located in the middle of Habsburg Trieste, in a prominent location on Piazza della Caserma (currently Fabio Filzi Street), next to the Opicina tramway. The magnificent, modernly designed building was a symbol of the economic and cultural power of the Slovenes of Trieste who, at that time, made up a quarter the cosmopolitan city's population.

The Narodni dom served as a centre for the Slovene minority in the city - it was a place bustling with concerts, political, educational and gymnastic events. It also housed the Balkan Hotel (one of the most advanced hospitality establishments in Europe), the Trieste Loan and Savings Bank, a printing house and the editorial office of the newspaper Edinost, numerous societies, a gym, a theater with four hundred seats and a partial glass-roof, a cinema, Josip Vilfan's law firm offices, a bank, a café, restaurants and several private apartments. Sixteen years after its inauguration, on July 13, 1920, it was burnt down by Italian extremists belonging to the fascist movement. The burning of several Slovene institutions and the central one - Narodni dom - was a horrible send-off for the Slovenian community which was to be ceded four months later, along with almost the entire territory of the former Austrian Littoral, to the Kingdom of Italy, following the Treaty of Rapallo, only two years before the fascist regime took power.

The museum keeps an original postcard with the motif of the burned Narodni dom. On its back, next to the inscription "Cartolina postale Italiana", the date 13.VII.21 followed by an exclamation point is  inscribed with a pencil. It remains unclear whether the date was incorrectly recorded or, rather, the photograph was taken a year after the arson. In any case, the photograph on the postcard serves as reminder of the beginning of the fascist pogrom and the long-lasting attempts to erase the Slovenian community from the territory.