I'm Michelle. Thanks for visiting The Istrian Diary. I hope you enjoy my father's story.

10 Oct 1942 - Giarabub

10 Oct 1942 - Giarabub

School, and A Movie

Dear readers, it is only the second entry of this diary, and already I require your assistance!

When I read the first sentence of this day's journal entry, I was mystified by two strange words. One seemed to be "Giarabub," which revealed itself in a simple Google search. The other, a slightly more disturbing word, appears to be "Nemiche." Uh, oh. Seems like my father was already talking about the enemy, but which enemy was he referring to?

The day in school began with a movie.


Rovigno, 10 ottobre 1942
“Mercoledì ha avuto luogo una rappresentazione della pellicola “Giarabub” per le Scuole Medie a quelle Nemiche. La prima parte della pellicola non l’ho potuta gustare perché dal di dietro, giungeranno degli scappellotti, somministrati generosamente dai quasi ignoti donatori. La seconda parte la potei gustare in pace.”


Rovigno, 10 October 1942
“Wednesday a showing took place of the film “Giarabub” for the middle schools and those Enemies. The first part of the film I could not enjoy because from behind, come the slaps administered generously by almost unknown donors. The second part I could enjoy in peace.“

I laughed at these last few lines. I guess schoolchildren don’t change much, and even students in the 1940’s sometimes did not behave well. My father would have been very interested in the film, and I can imagine his annoyance at his friends smacking him from behind.


Of my dad’s handwriting, certain letters are sometimes challenging to discern. So I am requesting your help. Here is a clipping from the diary, with the word I am hoping is something other than “Enemies.”  If you can verify or translate the word circled below, I’d greatly appreciate if you can leave a comment below.

By Ministry of War Office Propaganda, Rome 1941. (Italian Wikipedia (See file:Oasi giarabub.jpg)) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

In my research, I discovered Giarabub was an Italian war movie filmed in 1942. It was a propagandist movie that depicted the siege and battle at an oasis in the Libyan desert. The Italian forces had defended the position for nine months, under terrible conditions and with food and water shortages. The were eventually overcome an Australian division in March 1941.

To read more about the siege, click here. The entire movie is online (in Italian), if you'd like to watch it for yourself. Or, listen to the song, La Sagra Di Giarabub, with clips from the movie, if you'd prefer the shorter version.

As far as the enemies mentioned above (if that is indeed the word), might Franco be referring to non-Italian Istrians?  I don't know, and I think this part of the diary will require additional research.

Back to the journal . . .


"L’eroica oasi si difendeva (fo) valorosamente. Guerriglie su guerriglie si succedevano continuamente. Mancavano il pane e l’acqua. I soldati erano quasi tutti feriti. Malgrado la intimazioni di resa, essi combattevano tenacemente, contendendo a palmo a palmo il terreno. Il nostro Comando li elogiò di alzare la bandiera bianca. Ma quei indomiti eroi alzarono il tricolore e rimasero sepolti sotto le macine del loro fortino, abbattuto a colpi di cannone. Questi indomiti eroi hanno saputo tener alti i diritti di Roma Eterna sul nostro Impero!"


"The heroic oasis was defended valiantly. Guerrillas on guerrillas followed one another continuously. They lacked bread and water. The soldiers were almost all wounded. Despite orders to surrender, they fought tenaciously, contesting every inch of the ground. Our Command commended them to raise the white flag. But those indomitable heroes raised the tricolor (Italian flag) and were buried under the millstones of their fort, shot down by gunfire. These indomitable heroes managed to uphold the rights of Eternal Rome in our Empire!"

This may be, at least in my opinion, an example of propaganda in the school system. As I mentioned in the first post, I don't know the political views of my grandparents during this period of WWII. What they believed or perhaps, pretended to believe, in order to seem supportive of the Italian government. They were teachers, and may have been required to teach such material to their own students in order to keep their teaching positions.

I don't know, but perhaps there is more to learn in future entries. Again, if you can provide help in the translation, please feel free to leave a note in the comments below.

Follow-up Post: Giarabub

Follow-up Post: Giarabub

The First Page - Followup

The First Page - Followup