I guess that the clue is in the name. A feature with a German name in Italy does make you wonder just what it is and (if you’re me) whether it’s a relic from the Second World War. Kleine Berlin is a network of tunnels and yes, the tunnels were built during WW2 when Trieste was annexed as the Nazi Operational Zone of the Adriatic Littoral.
The tunnels were intended as air-raid shelters. It’s divided into two sectors; one built by the Germans and the other by Italians, but the two areas are connected by underground passages.
The Italian-built section of the complex was the better of the two when it came to facilities. There was a first aid station, toilet facilities and other amenities that made sheltering from allied bombs a little more pleasant.
The German section, on the other hand, was intended to be a refuge for soldiers, and their superiors, in the event of the area above being unworkable. Therefore it had large rooms where the military could gather. It connected, via underground tunnels, to ministry buildings. Some of the large areas were also used as storage depots.
Visiting the tunnels today bring it home that the Second World War was the first time in history that the civilian population of a country, in this case Italians, were just as involved in the conflict as were members of the military. And here is a series of tunnels that was built by both and used by both populations.
Trieste was particularly vulnerable to Allied bombings because it was a strategically placed port.
Today it’s a fascinating museum. It’s run by volunteers and tours are limited to the last Friday of every month unless you book in advance. If you’re booking a tour, please note that these are arranged for at least fifteen people. If you want the tour and the videos shown to be in English, please specify this when you book.
How to Find Kleines Berlin
Via Fabio Severo,
34133 Trieste TS,
JJ is originally from the UK and has lived in South Florida since 1994. She is the founder and editor of JAQUO Magazine. You can connect with her using the social media icons below.