Foiba (plural: foibas or foibe) is a type of deep natural sinkhole, doline, sink and is a collapsed portion of bedrock above a void. Sinks may be a sheer vertical opening into a cave, or a shallow depression of many acres which are common in the Kras (Carso) region, a karstic plateau region shared by Italy, Slovenia and Croatia.
The term "foiba" was used in 1770s by Italian naturalist Alberto Fortis who wrote a number of books about karst of Dalmatia. It is an Italian corruption of the Latin fovea, meaning pit or chasm. They are indeed chasms excavated by water erosion, have the shape of an inverted funnel, and can be up to 200 metres deep. Such formations number in the hundreds in Istria.
In Carso areas, a doline, sink or sinkhole is a closed depression draining underground. It can be cylindrical, conical, bowl-shaped or dish-shaped. The diameter ranges from a few to many hundreds of metres. The name doline comes from "dolina", the Slovenian word for this very common feature.The term "foiba" may also refer to a deep wide chasm of a river at the place where in goes under ground.
Since World War II, especially in Italy and western Europe, the term "foiba" has been commonly associated with the mass killings perpetrated by local and Yugoslav partisans during and shortly after the war. These were directed mainly against native Italians, but sometimes even against other real or perceived enemies of the incoming Tito communists. One famous case of the complained Ethnic cleansing of Italians (in Istria and Dalmatia) is related to the rape and murder of Corsetto Norma, an Italian girl of western Istria, in October 1943: the Foibe where she was thrown alive is near Pirano, in northwestern Istria. Other foibe were found nearby, with other Italian girls murdered (like Albina Radecchi, Caterina Radecchi, Fosca Radecchi and Amalia Ardossi)
However, sometimes such usage of the foibe was known to have been in practice by the Ustaše regime during late World War II, in particular at the foiba of Pazin (Pisino), now called "Pazinska jama". Another example of a foibe being used by the communist Partisans as a mass grave for their perceived enemies, many of them civilians, including women and elderly is Kevina jama near Kastela in Dalmatia. In the latter case, it was not ethnic cleansing as both perpetrators and victims were mostly Croats, but a case of dealing with alleged collaborators with the Italians, non-Communists and land owners, whose assets were meant to be confiscated by individuals partisans after their demise.
See also