Businessman – The Case of Ossoinack Family and Fiume
On October 18th 1918 Andrea Ossoinack, the representative of the city of Fiume in the Parliament of Hungary, gave a speech in which he claimed the right of self-determination for his city in the events that led to the dissolution of Austria-Hungary. This claim was a basis for Woodrow Wilson’s 1919 proposal of establishing Fiume as a free state, although Ossoinack himself objected it, favouring annexation to Italy. Less than 14 years earlier, Ossoinack was regarded by Hungarians as a staunch supporter of close ties between Hungary and Fiume, opposing the Autonomist Party and its claims of separate Fiuman identity, despite the fact that the Autonomist Party was founded and financed by his father Luigi, a wealthy Fiume entrepreneur. The history of Ossoinack family, Slavic by origin and Italian by language, with ethnical identity and affiliations influenced by the economic situation of any given moment in time, demonstrates that even during the period of awakening nation states, a question of ethnic identity was only secondary to business interests. The paper tries to illustrate the rise of the Ossoinack family, mainly focusing on Luigi’s business achievements, and Andrea’s later strivings to ensure the family business survive through the turbulent times of Fiume in the first half of the 20th century, choosing whichever identity necessary in order to achieve that goal.