Letter from Europe

Sauntering through November

Issue no. 2020/31

Picture above: The rocks at Teplice in the Czech Republic feature on the front cover of issue 62 of hidden europe magazine (photo © hidden europe).


Two events: the centenary of the first-ever General Assembly of the League of Nations (held in Geneva on 15 November 1920) and the publication this week of Issue 62 of hidden europe magazine. Yes, there is a link! We look at this new issue of the magazine which includes an article on the Free State of Fiume - one of two small states created by the League of Nations in autumn 1920.

Dear fellow travellers

Today marks the centenary of an intriguing moment in European politics. We’ll come back to that anon. For we have other news. A new issue of hidden europe has just been published this week. We think you might find it rather interesting. It’s the second issue in a row where we have had to think creatively about how to manage in times of a pandemic. In our last issue we focused on the theme of isolation, and now in hidden europe 62 we play with the theme of walking.

Walking is taken rather seriously these days, with a never-ending stream of memoirs penned by writers who head off, sometimes into primaeval wilderness but more commonly into a nearby field or forest, in search of the essence of nature and themselves. For us, as indeed for many in these difficult days, walking has been a lifeline to sanity. Ours are not the purposeful walks of folk out on a mission, but more of an amble. Like Thoreau, we like to saunter. Thoreau turned sauntering into a high art, claiming that he needed at least four hours a day just ambling to preserve his health and spirits.

In the new issue of hidden europe we saunter through Slovenia, ramble through a remarkable rock complex in Bohemia and wander along a footpath by the Bay of Trieste which much inspired the poet Rainer Maria Rilke. We also encounter the ghost of Machiavelli and Friedrich Engel’s alter ego, look at some antique Baedeker guidebooks and discover the Muslim communities of the Baltic region.

hidden europe is a rare creature in the busy world of travel publishing. We accept no advertising, and rely entirely upon our readers. If you’ve never seen a copy of hidden europe, can we invite you to take a look at Issue 62? You can buy a single issue, or better still a subscription, in our online shop.

Fiume and Danzig

The first ever General Assembly of the League of Nations took place 100 years ago today. That meeting was held in Geneva on 15 November 1920. The League of Nations was the precursor of the United Nations which from 1946 effectively took over the work of the League.

At its first General Assembly, the League of Nations changed the map of Europe. Not in any dramatic way, you’ll understand. But in November 1920, the League sanctioned the creation of two entirely new political entities. One was the Free City of Danzig, which was much more than a mere city-state. Its area was about five times larger than Malta. The other newcomer sponsored by the League of Nations was the Free State of Fiume, which was a real tiddler. With an area of just 28 square kilometres, this mini-state on the Adriatic coast was less than half the size of San Marino.

You can read the bizarre story of Fiume, which today is the Croatian city of Rijeka, in the new issue of hidden europe. It was the antics of Gabriele D’Annunzio - an aviator, poet and playwright who in his manner presciently anticipated the current crop of populist leaders - which propelled the League of Nations to take action over Fiume. D’Annunzio’s invasion of the Adriatic city of Fiume in 1919 precipitated an international crisis. One hundred years ago today, the newly created League of Nations endeavoured to defuse tensions by creating the Free State of Fiume. Its existence, however, was just short-lived. It’s an intriguing tale which we unravel in hidden europe 62.

Nicky Gardner and Susanne Kries
(editors, hidden europe magazine)

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