The Red and the Black


Crveni i crni (1985)
Director: Miroslav Mikuljan
Actors: Bekim Fehmiu, Milan Strljić, Olivera Ježina, Fabijan Šovagović
Runtime: 136 min

The first anti-fascist uprising in history is considered to be the strike of about 2.000 miners in the area of Labin in Istria. The strike began on the 2nd of March 1921 as a protest against the terror of Italian fascists over the trade unionists.

The strike was a direct reaction to the seizure and burning of the workers’ committee building in Trieste by the fascist squads and the brutal beating of trade unionists from the mine Rasa. Although on the national level in Italy fascists came to power in 1922, at the beginning of 1921 they were already raging and participated in the state project of the italianization of Slavic population in Istria and parts of Dalmatia, which Italy annexed in 1918 after the First World War and the breakup of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy.

At the very beginning of the strike, the miners have occupied the mines and formed the “red guards” to protect themselves from the fascist squads. Shortly afterwards, under the slogan “The mine is ours!”, they proclaimed a workers-controled “Labin Republic” which was ran by the workers’ council. The workers autonomously resumed production in the mines. During the first half of April 1921, the Italian administration in Istria sent military units and fascist squads that eventually crushed the fierce resistance of the miners and have drowned in blood the miners’ “Labin Republic”.

Italian administrators of Istria took an active part in bringing fascists to power, and therefore the uprising of Istrian miners is rightfully considered to be the first anti-fascist uprising in history.

Today there is almost no awareness of what fascism is and how it looks like, and thus, many of us do not recognize the warning signs. When you compare the events in the movie “Red and Black” with the today’s world, you’ll see that things are eerily similar to the one of hundred years ago. Uniformed state-sponsored gangs of street thugs are not only a relic of the past. Fascism is a very real threat that hangs over many regions.

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