Conference on the Free State of Rijeka (Stato libero di Fiume)

100th anniversary of the Free State of Rijeka

Events / Thu 12 Nov 2020 09:30
Tvrtko Jakovina, University of Zagreb
Ivan Jeličić
Ljubinka Toševa Karpowicz
Ervin Dubrović, Muzej Grada Rijeke
Damir Grubiša, American University of Rome

Rijeka is one of the few cities that was an internationally-recognised State for at least a short period. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the Free State of Rijeka (Stato Libero di Fiume – FSR). The FSR was an internationally-recognised state of 28 square kilometers with about 52,000 inhabitants, founded in 1920 under the Treaty of Rapallo – established between the Kingdom of Italy and the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes – in a situation where the status of Rijeka/Fiume became a major international problem. The decisions of the two neighbouring countries were supported by the great powers and the majority of the city’s population, with Croats supporting an independent State of Rijeka rather than Italian nationalists advocating for unification with Italy.

Rijeka/Fiume had enjoyed autonomy from the surrounding states since 1779. The State existed de facto for about a year, and de jure until 1924, when it was annexed by the Kingdom of Italy.

Unlike the centenary of D’Annunzio’s entry into the city, which was celebrated in Rijeka last year with an exhibition at the Governor’s Palace, this 100th anniversary of the establishment of the Free State of Rijeka would have been missed had it not been for the Free State of Rijeka association and the Rijeka City Museum. This international scientific conference will be taking place at City Hall, despite the pandemic. 13 renowned experts from Italy, Slovenia, Hungary and Croatia will address the creation of the State of Rijeka. Historians will shed light on the circumstances in which it arose, its duration and disappearance. As part of the scientific conference, great attention will be paid to the role of Riccardo Zanella, probably the most renowned Rijeka/Fiume politician of the first half of the 20th century and the first and last elected president of the Free State of Rijeka.

The gathering is a collaboration between association Slobodna Država Rijeka, the Museum of the City of Rijeka and the Coppieters Foundation, together with the Societa di studi Fiumani and the Italian Community of Rijeka and with the support of the City of Rijeka and Primorsko-goranska county.


12 November 2020

9:30 - 12:30

Welcome speeches by:

  • City of Rijeka
  • PGC
  • SDR
  • Italian community in Rijeka
  • Coppieters Foundation
  • Societa di Studi Fiumani

Interventions by the following experts:

  • Tvrtko Jakovina on “Rijeka rag, Rijeka State, Rijeka uniqueness and Rijeka permanence”
  • Ordasi Ágnes, on “Working in the service of the State?”
  • Ivan Jeličić, on “For a free State before a free State: remarks on the autonomous-democratic party”
  • Gábor Egry, on “How to climb through the Hungarian window into the world? Fiume/Rijeka as a springboard for imperial biographies”
  • Raoul Pupo, on “The Free State of Rijeka: a unique, but non-isolated experience”
  • Ljubinka Toševa Karpowicz, on “The Free State of Rijeka: Original and Survival Issues”
  • Kristjan Knez, on “View from Solferino Street. “Corriere della Sera”, the definition of the Adriatic borders and the constitution of the Free State of Rijeka”
12:30 - 14:00
Lunch break

Interventions by the following experts:

  • Marko Medved on “The Catholic Church and the Free State of Rijeka”
  • Ervin Dubrović, on “The State of Rijeka and Cultural Policy”
  • Vanni D’Alessio, on “Nationality, autonomy and the independence of Rijeka in the Italian debate on a free State”
  • Giovanni Stelli, on “Kulturnation and staatnation in Rijeka’s autonomists’ political activities”
  • Damir Grubiša, on “Fascist coup in the Free State of Rijeka: dress rehearsal for the ‘March on Rome’”
  • Marino Micich, on “The End of Zanella’s Autonomous Movement in May 1945”

Followed by time for a discussion with the audience.

14:00 - 17:30
From 18:00


When: Thursday 12 November 2020, 9:30-17:30
Where: Gradska vijećnica Grada Rijeke, Korzo 16, 51000, Rijeka, Croatia

The conference will also be broadcasted via the City of Rijeka’s YouTube channel and Zoom, with interpretation in Croatian, English and Italian.


Media inquiries can be addressed to

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This conference is financially supported by the European Parliament. The European Parliament is not liable for the opinions expressed by the speakers during the event.

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