Border is an imaginary line between the two states, separating the imaginary rights of one from the imaginary rights of another.

Ambrose Bierce, author

A community of people who have defined themselves through the identity of language, customs, way of life and culture is tied to a particular territory where it finds resources for its survival. The resources for the survival and prosperity of a community are always at risk and the community is forced to limit its territory in a way that does not allow others to jeopardize its exclusive right to resources. The territory that the community owns and is ready to defend is marked. Border guards patrol and monitor that agreed line. The search for new resources will, however, force the community to expand its boundaries at the expense of others. This will cause conflicts and changes in borders, and possibly changes in the communities and how they are structured.

Rijeka – change


Change is the only constant in the world.

Petar Preradović, poet

Due to the natural characteristics of the terrain on which the city of Rijeka is located, as well as today’s Primorje-Gorski Kotar County (mountains as borders to the north, the sea to the south), this area was often marginal. The boundaries of interest of various great powers often intertwined, met and clashed here. These changes have remained recorded on historical maps.

The boundaries of a nation – the state


It is this fraternity that makes it possible, over the past two centuries for so many millions of people, not so much to kill, as willing to die for such limited imaginings.

Benedict Anderson, historian

National ideologies, formed during the 19th century, emphasize the need to create nation-state formations. Such states are formed by international agreements according to so-called historical law, i.e. the right to a territory that has been predominantly inhabited by members of a particular nation in historical continuity. One of the rights of a nation is the right to its own state, which often appears in the rhetoric of nationalist ideologies of the 19th and 20th centuries.

Nationalist aspirations that all the territory inhabited by members of one nation should be united into one state can often be encountered.

Within nation-state borders members of other nations are considered minorities and are forced to protect their rights and freedoms. While modern, developed, democratic states respect their minorities, totalitarian regimes seek to restrict their rights and freedoms.

The state proves its sovereignty with the money it circulates on its territory. Money is like a banner that symbolically promotes political ideas. In some obscure situations, when neither the borders nor the government on a certain territory are completely defined, money still circulates because trade cannot stop. The money that then appears is also a reflection of that temporary situation. An example of this are the Austro-Hungarian kruna, which was still in circulation in Rijeka in 1918 and 1919 after the fall of that state but certified by the seal of the Città di Fiume and the Istituto di Credito del Consiglio nazionale. In the same period, Austrian kruna certified by the seals of the county districts (KO Sušak, KO Crikvenica …) was used.

The situation after the Second World War was similar. Due to the unresolved issue of Italy’s borders with the Democratic Federal Yugoslavia (DFJ), the territory whose status at that time was questionable (Trieste and its surroundings, part of Istria, part of the Slovenian littoral and Rijeka and its surroundings, excluding Sušak) was divided into Zone A and Zone B. Zone A was under the military administration of the Allies, and Zone B under the military administration of the Yugoslav Army (VUJA). In order for the economy in Zone B to function, VUJA decided to issue paper liras for the Zone B area, which remained in circulation until the end of 1946.

Marking a boundary


We build too many walls and not enough bridges.

Isaac Newton, physicist

Defining borders has been a thing since ancient times. The continuity of borders, like those of Roman provinces, flows to the present day. In the Middle Ages, due to the right to exploit natural resources and collect taxes, the boundaries of feudal estates were regulated by legal documents and clearly marked on the ground with boundary stones. The borders as we know them today, determined by international agreements, drawn on geographical maps and marked on the ground, first appeared in Europe in the 17th century. The Thirty Years’ War in Central Europe and the long-lasting wars of the Christian leagues against the Ottomans changed the ethnic and religious picture. As a result, centralised and absolutist states had to regulate their relations with each other by means of written documents. After the Treaty of Karlowitz, one of the first such historical documents, was signed in Srijemski Karlovci in 1699, the border between the Habsburg Monarchy, the Venetian Republic and the Ottoman Empire was established. The current Croatian borders with Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro were largely established in line with that division.

Interview with Maksimilijan Peč (1914 – 2016, builder, athlete, photographer, and journalist), producer: Filmerija 2013

Border zones


The security fence is reversible. Human lives are irreversible.

Silvan Shalom, politician

From the middle of the 15th century, border zones were created in Eastern Europe and Western Asia because it was extremely difficult to draw a border between the great powers (Habsburg Monarchy, Venetian Republic, Polish-Lithuanian Union, Russia, Ottoman and Persian Empires), as well as between different people and cultures. These are areas of frequent conflict, peace that is never complete, intertwined, and conflicting interests, but also cultural exchange and influences. This is the edge of great civilizations and forces that no one wants to give up, but is somehow “out of reach” for everyone. This area has been declared for centuries as “the bulwark of Christianity” or “serhadd, i.e. the bulwark of Islam”. In such border areas, human settlements function as defensive systems, and the inhabitants are primarily soldiers who can combine military and border duties with some economic activities that easily adapt to perpetual instability and frequent exchange of war and peace. However, what was surprising was the frequent solidarity between border guards and their connection across both sides of the border. They are connected by the unwritten rule of the “Krajina faith” which brings order to the chaos of the border areas, obliges them to keep their word about how they treat prisoners, civilians, property, and exchange of goods.



War is father of all, and king of all. He renders some gods, others men; he makes some slaves, others free.

Heraclitus, philosopher

The master / ruler defines the rules of conduct within the borders. The rules are established, preserved in oral tradition and / or written law. Examples of such laws are the statutes of medieval cities or the codes of municipalities or the constitution as the highest legal act of modern states. Laws and rights are difficult to reconcile with the ideals of justice and are subject to change. Conflicts over different rights can escalate and take on wider proportions, turn into wars – violent conflicts with the use of weapons, with numerous casualties. Many wars are waged for the sake of domination over certain territories, i.e. the determining the right to resources. Various ideologies try to justify these rights, giving ever greater rights to one in relation to others, making them oppressed, subordinate. The constant dynamics of these relationships make the human world restless, and the boundaries very relative.

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