The OPERATIONAL ZONE OF THE ADRIATIC LITTORAL (German :
Operationszone Adriatisches Küstenland (OZAK) or colloquially,
Operationszone Adria; Italian : Zona d'operazioni del Litorale
adriatico; Croatian : Operativna zona Jadransko primorje; Slovene :
Operacijska zona Jadransko primorje) was a Nazi German district on the
Adriatic coast created during
World War II
World War II in 1943. It was
formed out of territories that were previously under Fascist Italian
control until its takeover by Germany. It included parts of
present-day Italian , Slovenian , and Croatian territories. The area
was administered as territory attached, but not incorporated to, the
Reichsgau of Carinthia . The capital of the zone was the city of
* 1 Background
* 2 Genocidal activities
* 3 German plans for the region
* 4 Military operations in the zone
* 5 See also
* 6 References
* 7 External links
OZAK was established, with its headquarters in Trieste, on 10
September 1943, by
Adolf Hitler , as a response to the Italian
capitulation (8 September 1943) following the Allied invasion of Italy
. It comprised the provinces of Udine , Gorizia ,
Trieste , Pula
Rijeka (Fiume) and
Ljubljana (Lubiana). The Operational Zone
of the Alpine Foothills , comprising the provinces of Belluno , South
Tyrol , and
Trentino , was established on the same day. Both
operations zones formally belonged to the
Italian Social Republic ,
which governed those areas of
Italy not yet occupied by the Allies
Lake Garda . The name of the zone was a reference to
the historical crown land of the
Austrian Littoral .
The OZAK was not incorporated in the German
Reich outright, but
attached to Gau Carinthia .
Friedrich Rainer , Nazi
Carinthia was appointed
Reich Defence Commissar of OZAK, thereby
becoming chief of the civil administration of the semi-annexed
territory. The province of
Ljubljana was given a Slovenian provincial
administration. Leading collaborator
Gregorij Rožman , Bishop of
Ljubljana, recommended to Rainer that notorious anti-Semite Leon
Rupnik should be the president of the new
government, and Rupnik was then duly appointed on 22 September 1943.
Erwin Rösener became Advisor to the President.
OZAK was the scene of genocidal activities. Its commander, Higher SS
and Police Leader
Odilo Globocnik , had become one of the most feared
Nazi leaders in Eastern Europe after liquidating the Jewish ghettoes
in Warsaw and Białystok and supervising the construction of the
extermination camps at
Chełmno , Belzec , Sobibór ,
Majdanek , and
Treblinka . He commanded all the Nazi camps in occupied Poland from
1941 to 1943. After serving briefly as
Gauleiter of Vienna he had been
posted to Trieste, where to the very end he ran the Risiera di San
Sabba prison, the only SS camp ever set-up on Italian soil.
Globocnik, returning to his native city in triumph in mid-September
1943, established his office at Via Nizza 21 in
Trieste and began to
carry out Einsatz R, the systematic persecution of Jews, partisans and
anti-Nazi politicians in Friuli,
Istria and other areas of the
Adriatic coastline . His staff of 92, mostly members of the
German and Ukrainian SS with killing experience gained in Operation
Reinhard , was quickly expanded to combat the unrelenting partisan
activity throughout the region. Globocnik's domain included Risiera di
San Sabba , a large, disused and decrepit rice mill at Ratto della
Pileria 43 in the Triestine suburb of San Sabba. Under his
supervision it was converted into the only Nazi extermination camp in
Italian territory. The camp was used to detain hostages, partisans and
political prisoners , and as a collection and transit camp for Jews
being deported to
Nazi concentration camps . In October 1943, arrests
started and the camp opened, staffed primarily by German and
Ukrainian members of the SS under the command of SS-Sturmbannführer
Christian Wirth , former commander of
Belzec extermination camp .
Wirth was killed by
Yugoslav Partisans in
Opatija , on 26 May 1944.
He was replaced by Wirth's former deputy in
Lublin and successor in
Hauptsturmführer Gottlieb Hering. Hering was replaced by
Obersturmbannführer Dietrich Allers in August 1944. On 28 April
1945, the San Sabba camp ceased operating, and
Waffen-SS troops set
free the remaining inmates and demolished the gas chamber and
incinerator building the next day, to destroy evidence of war crimes.
Over 25,000 Italian , Slovene , Croatian and Jewish civilians passed
through the San Sabba camp, about 5,000 were killed there by various
methods including gassing . Today the rice mill is an Italian National
Memorial Site. The camp's commanders and collaborators were tried in
Trieste in 1976, but their sentences were never carried out.
GERMAN PLANS FOR THE REGION
The Austrian littoral, with Gorizia and
Istria in pink and
Carniola in yellow
The ethnic and political re-definition of the
Adriatic Littoral was
considered during the war on a theoretical level. In a telegram sent
on 9 September 1943 to foreign minister Ribbentrop ,
suggests the future establishment of
Reich protectorates in Gorizia,
Istria and Carniola , based on the subdivisions of the
Austrian-Hungarian Empire . Initial German occupation policy, however,
favored incorporating the area into the
Reichsgau of Carinthia. The
ethnic complexity of the region was to be used to minimize Italian
influence, promote ethnic segmentation, and introduce Germandom as a
stabilizing force. This strategy was based on an understanding of
history of medieval Germany and the
Habsburg monarchy , where the
German lords and nobles were seen to have made the economic and
administrative development of the region possible.
The future of the province of Udine (Central and Western
Friuli ) is
uncertain, but it's evident a strategy similar to the other areas of
the operational zone was to be pursued. In the previously mentioned
telegram, Rainer emphasizes that the
Friuli region is not ethnically
Italian, but is composed of speakers of Friulian and, to a small
extent German and Slovene . German scholars also presented supposed
evidence for the "profound influence" German culture and language have
had on the Friulians, including loan words and medieval place-names.
Historical evidence was also found for the region of
Friuli being a
march land in the
Carolingian and the early German empires, as well as
for the role the German feudal lords played in the region, and its
annexation to the
Duchy of Carinthia
Duchy of Carinthia in the late 10th century. It was
thus concluded that the Friulians belonged to the German cultural
field, and that their land was an ancient part of the German empire
and has ever since been part of the German "vital space" (Lebensraum
). These supposedly scholarly findings were echoed in German
newspapers, although the Italian-language propaganda spread in the
province of Udine emphasized the local population's ethnic distinction
and regional autonomy, not pan-Germanism.
Several factions within the Nazi government also intended to extend
the area of the two operational zones even further to the detriment of
Joseph Goebbels wrote in his diary that the only
"logical" border would be one that included the territories of the
Kingdom of Lombardy–Venetia , expressing his hopes
that Hitler's renewed friendship with
Benito Mussolini would not deter
him from this step:
We must not only get back
South Tyrol , but I envisage the boundary
line drawn south of
Venice . Whatever was once an Austrian possession
we must get back into our own hands. The
Italians by their infidelity
and treachery have lost any claim to a national state of the modern
He eventually managed to convince Hitler that this course of action
should be undertaken, who agreed that
Venice should be bound to the
Reich in "some sort of loose confederation."
MILITARY OPERATIONS IN THE ZONE
Since an Allied landing in the area was anticipated by the Germans,
and because of presence of large numbers of Italian , Slovene and
Croatian partisans, OZAK also hosted a substantial German military
contingent, commanded by
General der Gebirgstruppe
Ludwig Kübler . On
28 September 1944, these units were redesignated LXXXXVII Army Corps .
Nearly every available armored vehicle, modern or obsolete, was
pressed into service with Wehrmacht,
Ordnungspolizei , or
collaborationist Italian and Slovenian units.
On 30 April 1945, several thousand volunteers of the Italian
Comitato di Liberazione Nazionale rose up against the
Nazis. On 1 May, Globocnik was given command of a chaotic assortment
of German and collaborationist troops converging on
Trieste as they
Italy and Yugoslavia. These units were immediately
engaged by the Partisans ' 4th Army before surrendering to the New
Zealand 2nd Division commanded by NZ Lieutenant-General Sir Bernard
Freyberg on the evening of 2 May. However, fighting continued between
Josip Broz Tito 's army and remnant Wehrmacht and collaborationist
forces for several days. The Partisans began to withdraw from areas
west of the
Isonzo river on 15 May. On 11 June Yugoslav troops began
to withdraw from Trieste.
Adriatic Campaign of
World War II
World War II
* Areas annexed by
* ^ (in Italian)
* ^ A copy of an existing document is available online. It reads
"In addition to my (...) order of the commander of the Greater German
Italy and the organisation of the occupied Italian area from
10 September 1943 I determine:
The supreme commanders in the Operational Zone
consisting of the provinces of Friaul, Görz, Triest, Istrien, Fiume,
Quarnero, Laibach, and in the Prealpine Operations Zone consisting of
the provinces of Bozen, Trient and Belluno receive the fundamental
instructions for their activity from me.
Führer's headquarters, 10 September 1943.
The Führer Gen. Adolf Hitler". * ^ A B
Jozo Tomasevich (2001). War
and Revolution in Yugoslavia, 1941-1945: Occupation and Collaboration.
Stanford University Press
Stanford University Press . pp. 121–123. ISBN 9780804736152 .
Retrieved 20 January 2013.
* ^ Patrick K. O\'Donnell (2010). They Dared Return: The True Story
of Jewish Spies Behind the Lines in Nazi Germany.
Da Capo Press . p.
52. ISBN 9780786745838 . Retrieved 20 January 2013.
* ^ A B C Michael Wedekind (2005). "The Sword of Science". In Ingo
Haar ; Michael Fahlbusch. German scholars and ethnic cleansing,
Berghahn Books . pp. 111–123. ISBN 9781571814357 .
Retrieved 20 January 2013.
* ^ Speer, Albert (1995). Inside the Third Reich. London:
Weidenfeld & Nicolson. p. 420. ISBN 9781842127353 .
* ^ Tone Ferenc, The German Occupier in
Ljubljana p211; Jozo
Tomašević, War and Revolution in Yugoslavia 1941-1945 p122,
available online at
* ^ Odilo Globocnik
* ^ Gallery - The
Risiera di San Sabba
Risiera di San Sabba - Photos
* ^ Risiera di San Sabba
* ^ Pamela Ballinger (2003). History in Exile: Memory and Identity
at the Borders of the Balkans.
Princeton University Press . p. 23.
ISBN 9780691086972 . Retrieved 20 January 2013.
* ^ Joshua D. Zimmer