Trieste has always had a strategic role, because of its location in a corner of Europe where various different countries and cultures meet. It was no different in 1943 when the Nazi’s occupied the city (following the fall of Mussolini’s government and the invasion of Southern Italy).
During the period of occupation, under SS commander Odilo Globocnik (one of Trieste’s most infamous sons – a figure who, because of his involvment with the extermination camps in Poland, was described by the historian Michael Allen as “the vilest individual in the vilest organization ever known”), a series of air raid shelters were built (adding on to the Italian comunal air raid shelters).
Amongst the tunnels there were a number of galleries and command rooms for the Nazi command of the city, and the tunnels were even directly accessible, via a special staircase, from Globocnik’s residence in the City’s Palace of Justice.
Nowadays the Kleine Berlin complex is an intriguing museum to visit, administered by the Alpine Club of Italy. The complex is accessed in Via Fabio Severo (in front of #11) and is easily reachable by bus #17.
A visit to the museum includes an introductory film, and then time to wander around the complex, which brings you back in time, when you can imagine yourself in the shoes of the Triestine citizens taking refuge in the air raid shelters. The atmosphere is nervy, and the tunnels are dark and damp so appropriate shoes and clothes are advisable.
Visits to the complex need be booked in advance, and can be done so by contacting
Cell.: + 39 339 2539712 Signor Maurizio Radacich
Currently there are also organised guided tours every last friday of the month, starting at 20.00 (booking here is advisable as well, as numbers may be limited).