Maniacco Giovanni (1896 - 1918)

17/03/2020

On 29 May 1918 Giovanni Maniacco, a young man from Gorizia with Mazzini's ideas who had not yet turned 22 years old, was shot with five comrades for being one of the promoters of the revolt of the imperial infantry regiment no. 97, called demoghèla because of the zeal with which the soldiers, coming from Gorizia, Trieste and Istria, gave themselves prisoners rather than fighting in an army they did not consider their own. Maniacco was born in 1896 and was eighteen years old when, in 1914, he was called to the army. A young man like many others, the son of a shoemaker, committed in an edible shop, enrolled in a Mazzini club. Then four years of war, revolt and death faced with courage, head held high, shouting "long live Italy". Exponents of Italian and Slovenian irredentism agreed on a common uprising, which took place on the night of 23 May 1918 in Radkersburg, where the complement battalion of 97 was stationed. The revolt was nipped in the bud, however, and the leaders were immediately court-martialled, sentenced to death and shot: two on 28 May, six on 29 May; another eight, already sentenced and scheduled to be executed on 30 May, had their sentence suspended due to the intervention of Emperor Charles.

Giovanni Maniaccowas part of the second group. Together with him, Riccardo Vrech, from Fiumicello, and four Slovenian patriots were taken to the firing squad. Thus the testimonies, according to which the six of them bravely faced death, shouting respectively "viva l'Italia" and "viva la Slavia", are almost concordant. In particular, Maniacco, who was the first to be struck, replied to the bystanders who sympathized with the condemned: "No, not us poor, no, but the rest of you, if poor, who remain! ", and spit on a member of the firing squad - or, according to other sources, on the priest - who wanted to shut his mouth with his hand to silence him. United in revolt, the martyrs were only briefly united in death. The communion of intent aimed at an ideal of freedom and independence which, if not directed to the same homeland, did not involve contempt or hatred for the homeland and the nationality of others, could not stand up to the opposition of nationalisms. Soon the post-war states would only deal with the fallen on their own side. The executed were buried outside the cemetery wall the night after the execution; on that same night the 19-year-old Rodolfo Maniacco, Giovanni's brother, who was also involved in the revolt and awaiting trial for treason, managed to escape from the prison where he was being held.

The war ended shortly afterwards, and the bodies of the five Slovenes shot were soon exhumed and brought back home. When, in 1924, the remains of Maniacco were moved out of the cemetery of Radkersburg, only Gorizia and Vrech were left, which some texts, misled by the surname, give as "Goriziaan of Slavic nationality". In September 1924 Giovanni Maniacco finally had a tomb in consecrated ground in his Gorizia; the mortal remains of Riccardo Vrech had to wait again on foreign soil before resting in Fiumicello.And perhaps it is not inappropriate to remember again, together, the eight soldiers executed for fighting, instead of for the empire, for the freedom of their country, shot for too much love of country.