Následující text není historickou studií. Jedná se o převyprávění pamětníkových životních osudů na základě jeho vzpomínek zaznamenaných v rozhovoru. Vyprávění zpracovali externí spolupracovníci Paměti národa. V některých případech jsou při zpracování medailonu využity materiály zpřístupněné Archivem bezpečnostních složek (ABS), Státními okresními archivy (SOA), Národním archivem (NA), či jinými institucemi. Užíváme je pouze jako doplněk pamětníkova svědectví. Citované strany svazků jsou uloženy v sekci Dodatečné materiály.

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Andor Brakus (* 1952)

The story of a „Fiumano“ born in a refugee camp

  • Andor Brakus was born in a refugee camp in Santeramo in Colle, Bari, Italy, on February 14, 1952

  • 1952 – his parents left Rijeka/Fiume (Croatia) weeks before he was born

  • 1955 – His family moved permanently to Turin

  • He has never lost the emotional and human bond towards Rijeka/Fiume

  • He’s the vicepresident of the World Association of Fiuman Italians (Associazione Fiumani Italiani nel Mondo)


Andor Brakus was born in a refugee camp in Santeramo in Colle, Bari, in a 16th-century
barrack, on February 14th, 1952, at 5:00 in the morning. His life story is deeply intertwined with
the events of the city of Rijeka/Fiume. He identifies himself as Fiumano – inhabitant of
Rijeka/Fiume – of Italian culture, “but not of Italian nationality”, and as one of those “people that
have paid, with their goods and their culture, for the crimes of Italy”.
After the autonomous experience, the annexation to Italy, and the German occupation, in May
1945 the city of Rijeka/Fiume was occupied by the Yugoslav partisan authorities and, with the
Paris Peace Treaty of 1947, became part of Yugoslavia. His mother decided to leave the city
together with her sister and some friends but they were stopped by the authorities. The men of
the group were condemned to forced labor and the women, to protest, asked to be condemned
as well, hoping to get leniency for the whole group. However, they were condemned as well and
sent for three months in a small village in Bosnia and Herzegovina to build a railway. Because
of the hard conditions and absence of food, Andor’s mother and aunt returned to Rijeka/Fiume
physically exhausted for the privation.
Andor’s mother married his father when she was around 20 years old. When leaving
Rijeka/Fiume became a viable option, his father left for Italy and his mother joined him. She
traveled with an aunt, by train, and 8 months pregnant with Andor. She finally arrived in the
refugee camp of Santeramo in Colle, Puglia, where Andor was born. Andor remembers through
his mother’s stories the difficulties of the community life in the camp, the intimacy, the lack of
privacy, the sharing of suffering and pain. When his father moved to work in Bari, his mother
found a job in the city’s prefecture and moved too.


Andor’s mother brought him with her to work in the prefecture when he was around 2 years old,
even if it wasn’t allowed, because she didn’t have anyone to leave him with. She hid him in a
wardrobe, but one of her colleagues noticed him and told the prefect. The prefect found Andor,
but didn’t mind, and let him stay with her while she worked. The colleague who reported his
mother insulted her heavily, calling her a “dirty refugee”, and his mother run home in tears. The prefect went to her house, brought her back to work, and gathered all of her colleagues, saying
“remember that this lady represents a people that paid the debts of all the disgusting things we
did, so respect her.” After this episode, Andor’s mother never had another problem again.


The family moved to Turin in 1955, in the state-houses for refugees.
Andor met his wife in Turin, and they celebrated 53 years together in 2021. They have two sons,
and they rebuilt their life. Andor and his family returned every summer in Rijeka/Fiume. The
younger son of Andor is married to a Croatian woman, and Andor still has aunts and relatives in
Andor was very close to his parents. Despite all the difficulties, they did not bring him up with
hate, teaching him that: “you need to be able to rebuild your life in front of adversities”. Also, a
distinctive feature of his family is typical of Fiumani: cheerfulness.


The cheerfulness of people from Rijeka/Fiume has been their defense for centuries against the
various domination. According to Andor, Rijeka/Fiume was “Civitas Solis”: the City of the Sun
imagined by the philosopher Tommaso Campanella, a utopian and ideal society, symbol of a
way of life uncommon in the Europe of the time, such as the universal right to vote, and civil
unions. Also, 20% of the population was of Hebrew heritage: the presence of Jews in
Rijeka/Fiume and Trieste/Trst is explained and contributed to the cosmopolitan nature of these
exceptional cities. Andor’s family was made of Catholics, Orthodoxes, atheists, and Jews.
According to Andor, Rijeka/Fiume paid dearly for its freedom, as among the rising dictatorships
and the European monarchies of the 1920s, its democratic model became a dangerous


Populist movements keep spreading nonsense on the exodus, perpetuating stereotypes and
politically-motivated readings of history. The protagonists of the events are called “communists”
or “fascists” based on de-contextualized ideologies and manipulated for political propaganda.
After the Second World War, Italy had 108 refugee camps, the biggest of them in Rome and
Naples. The Rome camp was tremendous: it was created on purpose to send the families of the
exiled to America or Australia. Men left first and then, a year later, the rest of the family could
join, leaving entire families separated either for a “short” period of time or forever. An uncle of
Andor migrated to Australia, but after some months, working in sugar canes, he died of malaria.
This is another aspect of the shame the refugees suffered.
Today, Andor is not interested in economic compensations, but only wants one thing: public
excuses. In Italy still many people ignore the difficulties and adversities suffered by the exiled.
German people, in the form of the presidents, officially disowned Nazism, three times. Italian
representatives never did.

© Všechna práva vycházejí z práv projektu: Inconvenient Mobility

  • Příbeh pamětníka v rámci projektu Inconvenient Mobility (Jan Blažek)