HISTORICAL SLOVENIAN TOUR – II WAR

Day 1:  Monday, 07.10.24

GORENJSKA-UPPER CARNIOLA

Crngrob: Mass graves; Church of the Annunciation in Crngrob

Crngrob mass grave

Crngrob is the site of five known mass graves from the end of the Second World War. The Crngrob 1–5 mass graves are located along a gravel path in the woods next to pri Marku. They contain the remains of 200 to 300 victims, including leading members of the government of the Independent State of Croatia, their family members, and Slovene Home Guard .Most of the victims were murdered between May 22 and 25, 1945. A pri Marku family member was a witness to some of these murders, and another will talk to our group about it.

The pilgrimage church of the Annunciation in Crngrob is one of the most important artistic monuments in Slovenia. They also present stories related Turkish invasions, including the tale of the buckwheat girl.

Škofja Loka: Castle tour; mass graves discussion


Škofja Loka

The Škofja Loka Museum is housed in the Škofja Loka Castle, whose imposing exterior dominates the town below. The rich museum collections bear witness to the past and the present day of the territory along the Selška and Poljanska Sora rivers, which formed the Škofja Loka Dominion ruled by the Bishops of Freising, Bavaria, back in the day (973-1803).

The Museum’s archaeology, history, cultural history, art, ethnology, natural history and sports collections, as well as an open-air museum present the cultural heritage of the Škofja Loka area and also place it in the wider Slovenian and European contexts.

After WWII, communist Partisans used the castle as a concentration camp and murdered hundreds of non-communist civilians.  It was also used as one of the women’s concentration camps by the communists in 1949.  We will have an historian of the communist concentration camps with us for discussion.

https://www.loski-muzej.si/en/visit-the-museum/

Admission: 5 €/pax + additional charge for guiding, depending on group size and language

Free time for lunch in restaurant Avsenik

Begunje na Gorenskem:  castle tour; mass graves

Fifteenth-century Kacenštajn Castle, was rebuilt in the late 17th century and stands in the center of the village. The castle was used as women’s prison in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, and it was seized as Upper Carniolan headquarters of the Nazi German Gestapo during the war. After the war, a Yugoslav labor camp for political prisoners operated in the village. In 1949, communist Yugoslavia operated a women’s concentration camp for political prisoners.  A memorial and a museum dedicated to the victims were set up in part of the building, which today houses a psychiatric hospital accepting patients from all over the Upper Carniola region.

Mass grave; Begunje na Gorenskem-former women concentration camp


Begunje na Gorenjskem

In the mansion park and the nearby Draga valley there is a burial place of 667 hostages and partisans. The monuments were designed according to plans by the architect Edvard Ravnikar. There are also artistic sculptures in the park, the work of the academic sculptor Boris Kalin – Pripornik (detainee) and Talec (male hostage) from bronze and Talka (female hostage) from Karst marble. The former bell from the parish church, which was cast in 1923 by the Carniolan Industrial Society, is also a unique monument.

https://mro.si/en/museum-of-hostages-begunje/

Admission: 3 €/pax; Guided tour 35 €/group (english)

Evening talk and dinner at pri Marku

Day 2:  Tuesday, 08.10.24

LJUBLJANA-THE CAPITAL OF SLOVENIA

Ljubljana:  Police headquarters basement tour (guided by SCNR)

During communism, prisoners were held and interrogated in the basement of the police headquarters at Beethovnove 3. The Study Center for National Reconciliation (SCNR) has worked with the Slovenian Police to create a museum in this space and has conducted extensive research on its history.  The tour will be guided by SCNR.

After the tour, participants will visit the SCNR office (Tivili cesta 42) and listen to presentations on revolutionary violence by SCNR historians.

https://www.scnr.si/en/presentation-of-the-scientific-monograph-v-senci-beethovnove-3.html

https://www.scnr.si/

Museum of Contemporary History, Tivoli

Dr. Monka Kokalj-Kocevar will give an overview of the mass graves research and digs in Slovenia, and share part of the collection of items found of grave victims with participants.

Žale cemetery; presentations at SCNR Tivoli 42

Žale Cemetery is one of the most famous European cemeteries. Plečnik’s Žale is a cultural monument of national significance and is currently in the process of being inscribed on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List. The funeral complex of Plečnik’s Žale has also been awarded the European Heritage Label based on an intergovernmental initiative. Participants will see memorials for communist fighters in this cemetery, paid for by the Slovenian government, and no memorials for anti-communist fighters.  The one memorial paid for by Nova Slovenska Zaveza lists the victims of communist Partisans who were denied burial in the Zale cemetery.

Memorial to communist victims in Zale cemetery

https://www.zale.si/en/visitors/


Memorial to communist victims

Ljubljana’s castle tour as possible alternative.

Ljubljana Castle, standing on a hill above the city for about 900 years, is Ljubljana’s main attraction with numerous internationally recognized sustainability certifications. The castle’s Outlook Tower and ramparts offer some of the most beautiful views of the city, while the castle houses a museum exhibition on Slovenian history, a puppet museum, and a number of historical rooms such as the Chapel of St George, the Prison, and a video presentation room called Virtual Castle.

Ljubljana Castle, which can quickly be reached by funicular railway, also provides space for art exhibitions, houses a café (Grajska kavarna), a nightclub (Jazz Club Ljublanski grad), a wine bar (Grajska vinoteka Strelec), (and two restaurants (Strelec and Gostilna na Gradu), and serves as a venue for cultural events, family entertainment, dance evenings, and open-air film screenings held under the title of Film under the Stars in the summer.

  • Funicular railway – return ticket
  • Exhibition of Slovenian History
  • Viewing Tower and Virtual Castle
  • Museum of Puppetry
  • Audio guide

https://www.ljubljanskigrad.si/en/tickets/

Admission: 20 €/pa

Evening talk and dinner at pri Marku

Day 3: Wednesday, 09.10.24

DOLENJSKA-LOWER CARNIOLA

Turjak castle

Turjak Castle is one of the most important castles in the former Duchy of Carniola, was first mentioned in historical sources in 1220, although it is believed to have been built in the 11th or even the 10th century. Its owners, the lords of Auersperg, played a significant role in Slovene history. The museum shows many of the instruments of torture used during medeival times.

On 19 September 1943, about 500 members of the Vaške Straže (Village Guards), along with several detachments of the Yugoslav Army, barricaded themselves inside of the castle during their battle with the communist Partisans.  The castle was taken by Partisans, who set fire to the section where the Village Guards were and murdered most of them.  No one was ever punished for this crime against humanity. The castle was severely damaged in the battle, and lay in ruins for several years. Following WWII, the castle was nationalized, and restoration work slowly undertaken. Ironically, the castle has no information about this battle of Turjak, in that it is largely a museum about torture.  It is one example of many in Slovenia where the true history of communist violence remains hidden. We will have an historical expert give a presentation on this tragic event during our evening presentations.

https://gradturjak.si/

Admission: 6 €/pax; Guided tour 20 /group (english);

Kočevski Rog including Jama pod Macesnovo gorico, possibly Ferdring concentration camp. 

Tens of thousands of German, Italian, Croatian, Montenegrin, Serbian and Slovenian fighters were murdered by communist Partisans at the end of the war.  They were thrown into mass graves located throughout the country without trials. The post-war authorities tried to cover up their international violation of law, crimes against humanity, both anti-communist fighters and civilians, by mining caves, planting trees and building mine tunnels.

Excavation and research only began in May 2022, after years of preparation and many political obstacles. By the end of October 2022, a total of around 3,000 cubic meters of earth and rocks, which covered the cave due to mining, were excavated.

The skeletons were transferred to Kočevje, where an anthropological analysis of the bones is being carried out. Around 1,500 individuals who were killed have been identified. Although relatives of these victims may find out what happened to their relatives after almost 80 years, the vast majority of victims of mass graves have had no analyses conducted.  This is mainly due to the Slovene Parliament refusing to spend more money on such research and analyses.

We may have Uroš Kušir, a forensics specialist who worked at the Macesnovo site, and/or Jože Dežman from the mass graves commission along as our guide.

Evening talk and dinner at pri Marku

Day 4: Thursday, 10.10.24  

Brestanica castle


Brestanica castle

Perched on a rocky prominence sixty metres above the confluence of the Brestanica stream and river Sava, Rajhenburg Castle has dominated the surrounding countryside for centuries. It was built between 1131 and 1147 by Archbishop Konrad of Salzburg, a powerful landowner. The oldest, Romanesque part of the building dates to this period. The Reichenburgs were an influential family and received knighthood in the fifteenth century. After their line died out, their successors added contemporary elements to the building and so gradually lent it the appearance we can admire today. In 1881, Rajhenburg Castle was bought by Trappist monks and converted into a monastery.

It remained active until April 1941, when the German authorities transformed the castle and its outbuildings into a deportation camp for Slovenes. In 1947, the Trappist order was dissolved and the castle nationalised. In June 1948, a concentration camp with forced labor for women was established there, which was closed several years later. This museum, like others in Slovenia, de-emphasizes the horrors inflicted upon the political prisoners imprisoned here.

https://www.gradrajhenburg.si/en/history/rajhenburg-castle

Admission: 5 €/pax

Talk and guide will be Alenka Puhar, (author)+ other regional stops. 

Sv Urh, outside Ljubljana


Sv. Urh

The church of Sveti Urh was used as a headquarters by the Slovene Home Guard during the war.  The Home Guard committed a number of atrocities against communist Partisans here.  We will have a local expert discuss its WWII history

Evening talk and dinner at pri Marku

Day 5:  Friday, 11.10.24

NOTRANJSKA-INNER CARNIOLA – an optional day off or excursion with transportation

Pivka Military museum, + some local stops

The Park of Military History is a new museum and tourist center located in the old Pivka barracks complex. The barracks were built by the Kingdom of Italy around 1930 in order to defend the Rapallo border. From 1945 to 1991, the barracks were home to the (communist) Yugoslav People’s Army.

The Park of Military History has been developing within the complex since 2004. Over the last couple of years, the Park of Military History has experienced intensive development and quickly became the largest museum complex in the Republic of Slovenia as well as one of the largest military-historical complexes in this part of Europe. It displays various museum exhibits and diverse museum collections, offering visitors a unique insight into Slovenian national and world history. 

https://www.parkvojaskezgodovine.si/en/exhibits-and-collections/

Admission: 12 €/pax

Postojna caves as possible alternative

A visit to Postojna Cave starts at the entrance station of the cave railway. The train first passes through an artificial tunnel, built when a double track railway was constructed (in 1964). Next comes the Gothic Hall, richly decorated with stalactites and stalagmites, and the Ballroom, for 200 years a venue for events of various kinds. While you are viewing Nature’s sculptures, the train carries you for two more kilometres further into the cave, to the Great Mountain, where you alight and continue your visit on foot.

The path leads past the Great Mountain (also known as Calvary), across the Russian Bridge into the Beautiful Caves, through Spaghetti, White and Red Halls, all the way to the Brilliant Passage, where the most famous stalagmite and symbol of Postojna Cave stands: the Brilliant.

The route then leads past the aquarium containing human fish and into the Concert Hall, where you learn about the only underground post office in the world…

https://www.postojnska-jama.eu/en/tickets/meet-the-queen-of-caves/

Admission: 28 €/pax

Brezarjev graben

Brezarjev graben is a mass grave just outside Ljubljana. Dr. Monika Kokalj-Kočevar of the Contemporary Museum of History will give participants a short presentation on the communist Partisan crimes committed here.

Evening talk and dinner at pri Marku

Day 6: Saturday, 12.10.24

Route of refugees fleeing Tito 

Ljubel tunnel, to Vitring (Vitrinj) Austria, Bleiburg (Pilberk), to Maribor.

Route to be guided by Nova Slovenska Zaveza

Visit Dobrava cemetery

The Dobrava Cemetery was established in 1985 in the area of the Stažun forest, located on edge of the city of Maribor, and it was meant to become the main city cemetery.

Inside the cemetery is a monument for more than 15,000 victims, mostly Croatian, killed by communist Partisans after the war in May 1945.  They were killed in the woods in Tezno in May 1945, which lies near the memorial. The cemetery also holds the remains of the victims from the Huda Jama massacre.

Barbara Izlakar +386 31 342 891

https://pp-mb.si/cemeterydobrava/the-story-of-the-cemetery-dobrava.aspx

Evening talk and dinner at Gostišče Golob

Day 7: Sunday, 13.10.24

Kidričevo

The Sterntal Camp (Slovene: Taborišče Šterntal, German: Lager Sterntal) was a concentration camp located in Kidričevo, Slovenia. It was a central collection point for the expulsion of ethnic Germans from Slovenia after WWII. In May 1945 the Yugoslav secret police (OZNA) established a concentration camp at the site to collect ethnic Germans from across Slovenia, especially from Lower Styria and Gottschee. . Overcrowding and poor hygiene at the camp caused many of the inmates to die from amoebiasis and typhoid fever. The inmates were also physically and mentally tortured, and many were shot. The deaths include large numbers of the elderly and young children. The camp, which was designed to accommodate 2,000 people, contained between 8,000 and 12,000 prisoners. Up to 5,000 people died at the camp. The Sterntal Concentration Camp was closed down in October 1945 through the efforts of the Red Cross, and most of the survivors were sent to Austria. As is common for Slovenia in its efforts to erase all traces of communist revolutionary violence, no markers or memorials are present at the site.


Šterntal Concentration camp

Also:  Tank pit in Ptuj Pohorje

Po poti zgodovine, pot bunkerjev

Celje:

Teharje concentration camp: 

The Teharje concentration camp near Teharje, Slovenia, was run by the Yugoslav secret police (OZNA) after the end of World War II in Yugoslavia. The camp was built in 1943 by German forces and was used as a military camp for Hitler Youth. It had six residential barracks and ten other buildings. In May 1945 the communist Partisans gathered Slovene Home Guards, civilians and others who had fled Yugoslavia to Austria. before the advancing Yugoslav People’s Army to Allied camps in Austrian Carinthia. In the first days of June 1945 approximately 3,000 additional members of the Slovene Home Guard joined them. It is estimated that the communist government executed approximately 5,000 prisoners at Teharje without trial, in violation of international law, making this a site symbolizing crimes against humanity  No one was ever prosecuted for these crimes.

A memorial park designed by Slovenian architect Marko Mušič was built on the site of the camp in 2004, where an annual ceremony is held by the Government of Slovenia.

Teharje memorial

Huda Jama  

Huda Jama is a small settlement in the Municipality of Laško. The settlement is known primarily for the abandoned coal mine Barbara rov, which was closed in 1944

In March 2009, a hidden mass grave of victims of post-war massacres was found in the tunnel of the mine in Huda Jama near Laško. Around 800 were unearthed and initially stored in plastic boxes in the ossuary. After the adoption of the Act on Concealed Graveyards and the Decent Burial of Victims in 2015, the remains were transferred from the temporary ossuary in Huda Jama in October 2017 and buried in the cemetery in the Dobrava Memorial Park in Maribor.


Huda jama

We will have Roman Leljak, author of Buried Alive, along as our guide. Roman Leljak: +386 41 288 170

Celje castle tour as possible alternative

The earliest written reference to the Old Castle of Celje dates back to 1323. The original design only included a Romanesque palace and the walls. It was given its today’s scope and appearance by the Counts of Celje, the most renowned and notable noble dynasty seated in the area of present-day Slovenia. Their reign and power had a long reach and they had a substantial impact on the political fate of the Central European region. The first Count of Celje to move to the Celje Old Castle with his wife and four children was Friderik I. After moving in, he started to refurbish the castle into a more comfortable dwelling. In the following decades, they extended the curtain wall to include the eastern inner ward, while the four-storey guard tower (the Friderik Tower) took over the main defensive role. Herman II used this tower a dungeon as he locked up his own son Friderik II, after whom the tower is named, due to Friderik’s forbidden love for Veronika Deseniška After the demise of the Counts of Celje, the castle was inherited by the Habsburg dynasty who left it to their burgraves.

https://www.visitcelje.eu/product/old-castle-of-celje/#book-now

Admission: 7 €/pax

Evening talk and dinner at Gostišče Golob           

Possible add on:  Celje prison/women (guide will be expert on women’s concentration camps);

Day 8: Monday, 14.10.24

BREKFAST at GOSTIČE GOLOB

Finish up in Celje;

drive to Ljubljana for remainder of day.

Overnight in pri Marku

Registration is open now.

Confirmation by payment the amount 700 eur.

The full amount should be paid by 21 days in advance.
The final amount will be known at the end of the registrations, depending on the number of guests participating in the tour.

Most of the rooms at pri Marku are not single rooms–most are double or triple occupancy. If you want single rooms or a hotel in Ljubljana (which will cost more) we can arrange it.

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