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The Free Territory of Trieste or Free State of Trieste ( , , ) was a City state situated in Central Europe between northern Italymarker and Yugoslavia, created by the United Nations Security Council and administered by an appointed military governor commanding the peacekeeping forces stationed there.

The Free State was established on 15 September 1947 by a protocol of the Italian Peace Treaty in order to accommodate an ethnically and culturally mixed population in a neutral country. The intention was also to cool down territorial claims between Italy and Yugoslavia, due to its strategic importance for trade with Central Europe.It was divided into two zones, one being the port city of Triestemarker with a narrow coastal strip to the north west (zone A), and the other a small portion of the Istrianmarker peninsula (zone B).

The Free State was eventually taken over by its two neighbors in 1954 and officially dissolved in 1975.


The Free Territory of Trieste comprised an area of 738 km² around the Bay of Trieste from Duinomarker/Devin in the north to Novigrad/Cittanova in the south and had approximately 330,000 inhabitants. It bordered Italy to the north and Yugoslavia to the south and east. The rivers of the territory included the Rižanamarker/Risano, the Dragonja/Dragogna, the Timavo/Reka, the Rosandra/Glinščica and the Mirna/Quieto. The Territory's highest point was at Monte Cocusso/Kokos (668 m). Its most extreme points were near Medeazza/Medjevas at 45° 48’ in the north, at Tarski/Porto Quieto at 45° 18’ in the south, Rt Savudrija/Punta Salvore at 13° 29’ in the west and Grozzana di Gročana/Pese at 13° 55’ in the east.ywe5


Since 1382 Trieste/Trstmarker and Istria had been under the Habsburg monarchy. The population of the FTT has historically been diverse and mixed, with different and often changing ethnic majorities in different parts of the territory. Italians have so been predominant in most urban settlements with strong minorities of Slovenes or Croats, especially in Trieste/Trst where Slovenes represented a third of the population by the end of the WWI. The countryside of the territory was mostly Slovene or Croatian in the southernmost portion of the area. However there was also a smaller number of semi-nomadic Vlachs and a strong Triestine Jewish community.

In 1921 (after World War I) Italymarker formally annexed Trieste/Trst, Istriamarker and part of modern-day western Sloveniamarker. In 1924 Italy further annexed the Free State of Fiumemarker, now the city of Rijekamarker in Croatiamarker.

During the 1920s and 1930s the Slavic population was subjected to forced Italianization and discrimination under the Italian Fascist regime. They were also exposed to state sponsored violence by fascist party mobs, including the burning of the Slovene National House (Slovene Narodni dom) in Trieste on July 13, 1920 and also in other towns and villages. Many Slovenes and Croats consequentially emigrated to Yugoslavia, while some joined the TIGR (signifying Trst, Istra, Gorica, Rijeka) resistance organization, whose methods included more than 100, by some considered terrorist, actions in Trieste and surroundings during the 1920s and 1930s. TIGR is considered to be the first organised resistance group against fascism and later nazism.

World War II

Italy fought with the Axis powers in World War II. When the Fascist regime collapsed in 1943 and Italy capitulated, Slovenia and Croatia (that were to become parts of the Yugoslaviamarker) formally annexed the territory, but German forces occupied it. The Yugoslav 4th Army together with the Slovenian 9th Corps entered Trieste on May 1 1945. The 2nd Division of the British 8th Army arrived on the next day and forced the surrender of 2,000 German Army troops holding out in Trieste. An uneasy truce developed between Allied and Yugoslav troops occupying the area until British Gen. Sir William D. Morgan proposed a partition of the territory and the removal of Yugoslav troops from the area occupied by the Allies. Tito agreed in principle on May 23 as the British XIII Corps was moving forward to the proposed demarcation line. An agreement was signed at Duinomarker/Devin on June 10, creating the Morgan Line, and Yugoslav soldiers withdrew by June 12, 1945.

Establishment of the state

In January 1947 the United Nations approved a resolution under Article 24 of its charter calling for the creation of a free state in Trieste and the region surrounding it. A permanent statute codifying its provisions was to become recognized under international law upon the appointment of an international governor approved by the Quatripartite Powers. On September 15, 1947, the peace treaty between the United Nations and Italy was ratified, establishing the Free Territory of Trieste. Official languages were Slovene, Italian and Croatian. The territory was, however, divided into two zones: Zone A, which was 222.5 km² and had 262,406 residents including Trieste, which was administered by British and American forces, and Zone B, which was 515.5 km² with 71,000 residents including north-western Istria, and which was administered by the Yugoslav National Army.

Between October 1947 and March 1948 the Soviet Unionmarker rejected the candidacy of 12 nominations for governor, at which point the Tripartite Powers (United Statesmarker United Kingdommarker, and Francemarker) issued a note to Moscowmarker and Belgrademarker on March 20 1948 recommending that the territory be returned to Italian sovereignty. No governor was ever appointed under the terms of the UN Resolution. The Territory thus never functioned as a real independent state. Even so, its formal status was respected and it issued its own currency and post stamps. The break between the Tito government and the USSRmarker in mid-1948 resulted in the proposal to return the territory to Italymarker being suspended until 1954.

The Allied Military Government administered Zone A, which was divided into peacekeeping and law enforcement sectors protected by a command of 5,000 Americans ("TRUST", the TRieste United States Troops) and 5,000 British in "BETFOR" (British Element Trieste FORce), each comprising a brigade-sized infantry force and complete support units (Signals, Engineers, Military Police, etc).

The major TRUST unit was the 351st Infantry regiment composed of:

   Headquarters and headquarters company,
        Service company,
        Heavy mortar company,
        Tank company,
        Three infantry battalions each with
                three rifle companies and
                one heavy weapons company

TRUST support units included::

   88th Reconnaissance company,
        12th Field Artillery battery,
        517th Combat Engineer company,
        281st Military Police Service company,
        7106th Engineer Service company,
        23rd Ordnance Maintenance company,
        508th Signal company,
        23rd Quartermaster company,
        9th Transportation Truck company,
        7th Station Hospital,
        98th Army Band, and
        7101st General Depot Headquarters company

According to the estimates published by the Allied Military Government, as of 1949 in the A zone there were about 310,000 inhabitants, including 239,200 Italians and 63,000 Slovenes .

According to the Yugoslav census of 1945, in the part of Istria which was to become Zone B there were 67,461 inhabitants, including 30,789 Slovenes and Croats, 29,672 Italians and 7,000 people of unidentified nationality. According to contemporary Italian sources, in zone B there were 36,000-55,000 Italians and 12,000-17,000 Slovenes and Croats.


On 5 October 1954, a memorandum of understanding was signed in Londonmarker by ministers of the United States, United Kingdom, Italy, and Yugoslavia. It gave a provisional civil administration of the former Zone A (with Triestemarker) to Italy and Zone B to Yugoslavia (which had already incorporated a communist government since 1947). In 1975 the Treaty of Osimo was signed in Osimomarker, definitively dividing the former Free Territory of Trieste between Italy and Yugoslavia.

Zone A corresponds to the current Italian Province of Trieste, and Zone B is now divided between the Slovenian Littoral and Croatian Istriamarker.

Governors of Occupied Trieste and FTT

Zone A

May 1, 1945 - July 1945 Maj. Gen. Bernard Cyril Freyberg (New Zealandmarker) * :July 1945 - July 1947 Col. [[Alfred Bowman|Alfred Connor Bowman]] ([[United States]])* :July [[1947]] - [[September 16]], [[1947]] Lt. Col. [[James J. Carnes]] ([[United States]])* :[[September 16]], [[1947]] - [[May 31]], [[1951]] Maj. Gen. [[Terence Airey|Terence Sydney Airey]] ([[United Kingdom]]) :[[May 31]], [[1951]] - [[October 26]], [[1954]] Maj. Gen. [[Sir John Winterton|Thomas Winterton]] ([[United Kingdom]]) === Zone B === :[[May 1]], [[1945]] - [[September 15]], [[1947]] [[Dušan Kveder]]* :[[September 15]], [[1947]] - March 1951 [[Mirko Lenac]] :March [[1951]] - [[October 26]], [[1954]] [[Miloš Stamatović]] *Military occupation prior to establishment of the FTT
Source: Worldstatesmen / Italy / Trieste by Ben Cahoon


Ethnic distribution in Istria in 1910:
During the late 1940s and in the years following the division of the territory, up to 40,000 people (mostly Italiansmarker) chose to leave the Yugoslav B zone and move to the A zone or Italy for various reasons - some were intimidated into leaving and some simply preferred not to live in Yugoslavia. In Yugoslavia, the people who left were called optanti which translates as choosing, while they call themselves esuli or exiles. About 14,000 Italians chose to remain in the Yugoslav zone, now part of Slovenia and Croatia.

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