STA, 23 August 2022 - Slovenia marks European Day of Remembrance for the Victims of All Totalitarian and Authoritarian Regimes on Tuesday. Several commemorative ceremonies will be held in Ljubljana, with President Borut Pahor laying a wreath at the monument in Congress Square.
A number of ceremonies will be held in Slovenia this afternoon in memory of the victims of totalitarian regimes, organised by the Study Centre for National Reconciliation (SCNR), the Military Vicariate of the Slovenian Armed Forces and the parish of St Nicholas in Ljubljana.
One of the ceremonies will take place at the Monument to the Victims of All Wars in Congress Square in the capital, where Pahor will lay a wreath and deliver an address, the president's office said.
At the invitation of Pahor, the ceremony will be attended by high-level representatives of the five largest religious communities in Slovenia: the Catholic, Protestant, Islamic, Jewish and Orthodox communities. Prior to the ceremony, the president is expected to receive the representatives at the Presidential Palace.
The victims of totalitarian regimes will also be commemorated with Mass at the Ljubljana Cathedral that will be celebrated by Ljubljana Archbishop Stanislav Zore.
The government commission for concealed mass graves meanwhile called on the government on the eve of the remembrance day to take initiative as soon as possible to determine the location of a tomb at Ljubljana's main cemetery where the remains of victims from a mass grave in the chasm in Macesnova Gorica in Kočevski Rog, a vast forest area in the south-east of Slovenia, would be buried.
Archaeologists have so far uncovered the remains of more than 2,000 victims of post-WWII executions and items found in the Macesnova Gorica chasm, where excavation started in 2017, which suggest that Slovenian war prisoners were killed there, the commission said.
In line with agreements reached, the commission expects research in the chasm to conclude this year so a funeral could be held in 2023.
The commission also expects Slovenia to continue to strive for the implementation of the right to funeral of all victims of war and post-war violence.
Before the remembrance day, the EU expressed solidarity with all victims of persecution around the world. EU High Representative Josep Borrell said that everyone should have the right to have or not to have, to choose or to change their religion or belief, and not to be subjected to discrimination or coercion as a result.
23 August was declared European Day of Remembrance for the Victims of All Totalitarian and Authoritarian Regimes by the European Parliament in 2009, and has been officially commemorated in Slovenia since 2012.
STA, 27 April 2022 - Slovenia observes the Day of Uprising Against the Occupation on Wednesday, remembering the day 81 years ago when the Liberation Front, an organisation that spearheaded armed resistance against the occupying forces in WWII, was established.
The main national ceremony took place already last evening on Mala Gora, a hill near Ribnica in the south where an armed clash took place on 13 May 1941 after the occupation of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in April.
The location of the ceremony proved to be controversial already last year, when it hosted the resistance day ceremony for the first time.
This year it was questioned by several veteran organisations, the Slovenian president and the parliamentary speaker, neither of whom were in attendance.
While the organisers say it was the site of the first armed clash between the anti-fascist TIGR organisation and the occupying forces, not all veterans or historians agree.
The coordination of patriotic and veteran organisation sees it a "a deliberate attempt to undermine the historical role of the Liberation Front".
The keynote speaker, National Council President Alojz Kovšca, said the TIGR fighters had long been "robbed of their identity" and the organisation's contribution to liberation long ignored, so they deserved the attention.
A number of events will take place around the country today.
President Borut Pahor will open Presidential Palace to members of the public and address them, and lay a wreath at the Liberation Front memorial in Rožna Dolina borough.
A major event will be held on Mt Nanos in the south-west to mark 80 years of one of the first major battles of Partisans in Primorska region.
For Slovenians, WWII started on 6 April 1941, when Nazi Germany attacked the Kingdom of Yugoslavia by bombarding Belgrade.
Slovenian lands were occupied by the Germans, Italians and Hungarians, and a few settlements by the pro-Nazi Independent State of Croatia.
The Anti-Imperialist Front, as the Liberation Front was initially known, was formed on 26 April 1941 by representatives of the Communist Party of Slovenia, the Sokoli gymnastic society, the Christian Socialists and a group of intellectuals, but it soon became dominated by the Communist Party.
While its role was never questioned before Slovenia became independent in 1991, not all historian see eye to eye on it now.
While there is no doubt that it helped defeat Nazism and Fascism, the Communists committed summary killings immediate aftermath of WWII, and introduced an undemocratic political system; Slovenians had to wait until 1990 for the first post-WWII multi-party elections.
STA, 14 September 2021 - A joint session of two parliamentary working bodies, called by the centre-left opposition to discuss the status of an association that has been linked to the Identitarian movement, was broken off yesterday after one of the ministers invited walked out, while another excused himself from attending the meeting.
The joint session by the Commission for Petitions, Human Rights and Equal Opportunities and the Culture Committee was to discuss the status of the Association for the Promotion of Traditional Values, whose erstwhile leader Urban Purgar recently resigned in the wake of controversy after he posted a "Hitler is #hero" tweet on 1 August.
Urban Purgar and his tweet. Photos: YouTube, Twitter
The opposition Social Democrats (SD), Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ), Left, Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB) and the non-affiliated MPs (NeP) wanted for the Culture Ministry to annul the decision whereby it awarded the association the status of an association in the public interest, which was one of the conclusions proposed for the session to adopt.
SD MP Meira Hot said it was "completely unacceptable" for the association to enjoy such a status considering that it "incites hatred, offends people and even threatens liquidations".
"How can glorifying one of the biggest Nazi leaders be for the general benefit of our society and public interest," the MP wondered, adding that such actions ran in contravention of the Slovenian law.
Culture Minister Vasko Simoniti said a session on neo-Nazism was welcome, and it would be good for discussion to be held in parliament once about "hate speech and totalitarian criminal systems such as Communism, Fascism and Nazism".
He said it was up to the authorities in charge to detect if neo-Nazism was present in Slovenia, while "it is required to approach in equal measure and vigilantly to detecting other totalitarian systems".
The minister soon left the session without stating his position on the proposed conclusions. Since Justice Minister Marjan Dikaučič had already excused himself from attendance beforehand, the session was broken off after about an hour.
The centre-left opposition said they would keep resuming and interrupting the session until they have been given answers to their concrete questions.
The parties had told reporters ahead of the session they would insist on the Association for the Promotion of Traditional Values being stripped of the status of an association in the public interest.
"Ideas of Nazism and Fascism are being stringently prosecuted throughout Europe, while the Janez Janša government encourages such ideas and gives them value," said Violeta Tomić, the head of the Culture Committee and MP for the Left.
STA, 23 August 2021 - PM Janez Janša and parliamentary Speaker Igor Zorčič marked Europe-wide Day of Remembrance for the victims of all totalitarian and authoritarian regimes on Monday, warning against glorification of Nazi and other totalitarian regimes' symbols. Zorčič called for prosecution of such acts, which he deems extremely dangerous and inadmissible.
Addressing an international conference on transition processes in Central and Eastern Europe marking Black Ribbon Day in Ljubljana, Janša stressed that unless the society learned from history it would be condemned to repetition.
He noted that it took more than 15 years for the resolution based on which Black Ribbon Day is marked to be adopted. He also thinks a lot more work will be needed to achieve national reconciliation.
However, at least the memory of the past has been preserved, he stressed. "Today, nobody in Slovenia can say they do not know or do not have the opportunity to know the entire truth, all aspects of events during all totalitarian regimes under which Slovenians have suffered," he said.
The prime minister also expressed concern about the attitude to totalitarian, criminal regimes. "Today, when we remember victims of totalitarian regimes on European soil, let's not look only back but also forward. If we are not capable of learning anything from history, we'll be condemned to repetition," he warned.
Speaker Zorčič said in his message on Black Ribbon Day that even though it seemed that the period of peace and economic progress after the Second World War had brought catharsis to European nations and an understanding of the evil that totalitarian regimes bring, it was clear today that Europe had still not come completely to terms with its totalitarian past.
"Worse yet, recently historical criminals, their totalitarian ideas and despicable actions are increasingly being glorified, while intolerance to those who are different and think differently is strengthening," Zorčič warned.
The current situation is a warning how extremely thin and fragile is the borderline between normality and totalitarianism, he said.
The crisis situation brought about by the Covid-19 epidemic creates the conditions for hate speech that is spreading particularly aggressively on social media, the speaker noted.
"In this situation adding fuel to the fire by irresponsible individuals, including politicians, is particularly dangerous. Any glorification of Nazism and totalitarian symbols, even only to get public attention, is extremely dangerous and inadmissible, yet it is becoming increasingly frequent, so it should be prosecuted in Slovenia as well," Zorčič said.
Tomaž Ivešić, director of the Study Centre for National Reconciliation, which hosts today's conference in parliament together with the National Council and Foreign Ministry, said that Slovenia had so far made some important steps towards reconciliation, correcting injustices and punishing human rights violations in totalitarian regimes.
He noted that almost 36,000 decisions had been issued to political prisoners and victims of post-war violence and their relatives based on which EUR 127 million in damages had been paid out.
However, he added, one problem was that so far no one had been convicted of any crimes committed during the Second World War, and that the process of denationalisation was still not completed.
National Council president Alojz Kovšca said that the term reconciliation was being abused in a political sense. He thinks it should be made clear publicly that reconciliation meant letting go of resentments referring to the past and not giving mandate for illegitimate obtaining of privileges for anyone.
Kovšca also warned of the "aggressive political discourse", including on social media.
Victims of totalitarian regimes will be remembered today as wreaths will be laid at the Monument to the Victims of All Wars in Ljubljana's Congress Square and in front of the US Embassy. A mass will also be celebrated at the Ljubljana cathedral by Archbishop Stanislav Zore, which will also be attended by Janša.
Slovenia and Europe mark today the international day of remembrance for the victims of totalitarian regimes, specifically Stalinist, communist, Nazi and fascist regimes. The European Parliament set 23 August as Europe-wide Day of Remembrance for the victims of all totalitarian and authoritarian regimes in 2009. Slovenia has been officially marking the day since 2012.
23 August was chosen as the date of the signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, a 1939 non-aggression pact between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany.
STA, 8 June 2021 - The National Assembly Speaker Igor Zorčič and National Council Speaker Alojz Kovšca have condemned a t-shirt displaying an image of the late collaborationist general Leon Rupnik in the parliament building. The person holding the t-shirt took a picture in the National Council chamber, news portal 24ur.com reported.
The picture shows Aleš Ernecl, editor-in-chief of the National Press Agency (NTA). The NTA had plans earlier in the year to become one of the major media outlets in Slovenia, but things went wrong when Ernecl described the agency as a 'fascist media' outlet. He later said the statement was just him being sarcastic.
Ernecl posted the photo on Twitter with a caption reading "Leon's home again" in another move that has raised dust in the public. The picture was taken during Ernecl's visit to Zmago Jelinčič, the leader of the National Party (SNS), according to 24ur.com.
Leon spet doma. pic.twitter.com/BzGPmRdvfB— ALEŠ ERNECL (@alesernecl) June 7, 2021
Leon Rupnik being a Nazi in Ljubljana. Photo: Wikipedia, public domain
Representatives of the National Council, the upper chamber of Slovenia's parliament, told the portal that Ernecl had not been invited to the parliament building by the National Council.
Kovšca said it was unacceptable "to provoke the public with an abuse of the National Council institution", noting that the upper chamber of the parliament was the home of civil society, democracy and pluralism.
He also advised Ernecl and everybody else to wear or display Slovenian national symbols, and distanced himself from any display of collaborationist or totalitarian symbols.
Also commenting on the provocation, Zorčič said that in line with the parliament rules and customs, everyone who enters the building should be dressed appropriately.
"If you ask me, such a t-shirt was inappropriate," he said, adding that he did not know who let Ernecl in the parliament dressed like that.
Jelinčič, who hosted Ernecl on Monday, described the move as a "stupid provocation and attention seeking". "Some with Che Guevara and the red star, others with Rupnik. Both is stupid," he said.
An army general during the First World War, Rupnik (1880-1946) headed the Provisional Government of the Nazi-occupied Province of Ljubljana and served as chief inspector of the Domobranci (Slovene Home Guard), a collaborationist militia, during WWII.
He led the Home Guard in an oath of allegiance on Adolf Hitler's birthday on April 20 in 1944.
In May 1945, he fled to Austria where he was arrested by the British and returned to Yugoslavia in early 1946. He was court-martialed along with several other people and sentenced to death for treason and collaboration, and executed by a firing squad in September 1946.
In 2019, the Supreme Court quashed Rupnik's guilty sentence on an appeal on a point of law lodged by his relative, and sent the case to the Ljubljana District Court for retrial.
The proceedings were then stopped as the Ljubljana District Court argued that a dead person could not be put on trial.
STA, 27 April 2021 - Slovenia observes Resistance Day (Dan upora proti okupatorju) on Tuesday, remembering the day 80 years ago when the Liberation Front, an organisation that spearheaded armed resistance against the occupying forces in WWII, was established. Several events will be held, including a national ceremony with Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek delivering the key-note.
The ceremony will be held on Mala Gora, a hill near Ribnica in the south where the first armed clash on Slovenian soil took place after the occupation of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. The event will be attended by senior officials, including President Borut Pahor and Prime Minister Janez Janša.
Pahor will also address Slovenian citizens together with Marijan Križman, the head of the WWII Veterans' Association.
He will open the Presidential Palace to the public as was the case before the pandemic, yet in a limited scope, only for the association's representatives.
Pahor and Križman will also lay a wreath at the memorial to the Liberation Front in front of Vidmar's Villa, the house under Rožnik hill where the organisation was founded.
On the eve of the holiday, the German Embassy unveiled a memorial plaque in the villa, which Germany bought in 2016 and turned it into a residence of its ambassador.
Pahor said this symbolic gesture bore great significance for the future because it is based on the spirit of reconciliation ingrained into "our common European homeland".
The holiday was also marked by the WWII Veterans Association last evening, with Križman saying 80 years after the Liberation Front had been established, the times called for "liberating the Slovenian nation once again" as he criticised the government for curtailing fundamental rights under the pretext of containing the epidemic.
For Slovenians, World War II started on 6 April 1941, when Germany attacked Yugoslavia. The Anti-Imperialist Front, as the Liberation Front was initially known, was formed 20 days later, on 26 April 1941. The fact that its establishment is marked on 27 April is due to a minor historical error.
The Liberation Front was founded at the home of the intellectual Josip Vidmar (1895-1992) by representatives of the Communist Party of Slovenia, the Sokoli gymnastic society, the Christian Socialists and a group of intellectuals.
STA, 26 April - President Borut Pahor and German Ambassador to Slovenia Natalie Kauther have unveiled a memorial plaque marking the 80th anniversary of the Liberation Front and the resistance of Slovenians against Fascism. The plaque was unveiled on Monday, the eve of Resistance Day at the house where the resistance organisation was founded.
Kauther took the opportunity to apologise on behalf of Germany for the horrors committed during WWII, while Pahor stressed the significance of the gesture for the future.
The Liberation Front was founded on 26 April 1941 at Vidmar's Villa, which is named after its former owner Josip Vidmar (1895-1992), a co-founder of the Liberation Front. Germany bought it in 2016 and turned it into a residence of the German ambassador.
Kauther said the German Embassy felt "great responsibility to treat the house and its history with due care and preserve the memory of what happened here 80 years ago".
Danes, na predvečer dneva upora proti okupatorju, se je predsednik Republike Slovenije Borut Pahor udeležil spominske slovesnosti v Vidmarjevi vili v Rožni dolini, v kateri je bila na današnji dan pred natanko 80 leti ustanovljena Osvobodilna fronta slovenskega naroda. pic.twitter.com/eHORj7y2VS— Borut Pahor (@BorutPahor) April 26, 2021
She expressed "my gratitude that we Germans were again accepted into the community of nations after all the suffering and atrocities our country caused to many people".
"To be able to cultivate deep friendship with those who used to be our worst enemies and to work together for a better, more just world, is for us a really big gift," the ambassador said in her speech in the Slovenian language.
Pahor thanked the ambassador for the gesture of setting up the memorial plaque together with the Slovenian Museum of Contemporary History.
He said this was "a symbolic act" by Germany that also bore great significance for the future. "It's about the spirit on which our common European homeland is based. Not on forgetting, but on remembering yet sometimes also forgiving to the benefit of coexistence."
Pahor would like Slovenian citizens "to be proud of the resistance" during WWII and understand this too enabled the survival of the Slovenian nation and the foundation of Slovenia.
He urged Slovenians to celebrate Resistance Day "with joy and pride and to remember the roots of the Partisan resistance, without which there would be no national liberation".
STA, 11 October 2020 - Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša has condemned the defacing of a monument in the courtyard of the government of the Austrian state of Carinthia in Klagenfurt during Saturday's ceremony to mark the 100th anniversary of the Carinthian plebiscite.
Janša said on Twitter on Sunday that the defacing of the monument to Carinthian unity was detrimental to the Slovenian compatriots in Carinthia and Slovenia's reputation in the world.
Primitivna levičarska mazaška sramota, ki škodi izključno koroškim rojakom in ugledu Slovenije v svetu. Posredno pa jo omogoča tudi slovensko tožilstvo, ki v praksi podpira ideološko obarvane grožnje s smrtjo. pic.twitter.com/Y8i0H2hazk— Janez Janša (@JJansaSDS) October 11, 2020
Over the night, unknown perpetrators covered the monument with black and turquoise paint and wrote "Death to Fascism" in Slovenian.
Calling the act a primitive left-wing disgrace, the prime minister said it had been "indirectly enabled by the Slovenian prosecution, which in practice supports ideologically-coloured death threats."
Janša was referring to the slogans "Death to Janšism" carried at some of the earlier anti-government protests prompted by anti-coronavirus measures.
The Austrian authorities have launched investigation of the act of vandalism which has also been condemned by Austrian politicians, including Carinthia Governor Peter Kaiser and Austrian President Alexander van der Bellen.
The latter attended the ceremony in the capital of the southern Austrian state together with Slovenian President Borut Pahor.
The presidents of all three umbrella organisations of the Slovenian minority in Carinthia have also critical of the act.
STA, 6 September 2020 - Four victims of fascism, known among Slovenians as Basovizza Heroes, were remembered with a ceremony on Sunday at the site where they were executed 90 years ago following a short trial before a Fascist court in Trieste.
Slovenian patriots Ferdo Bidovec, Fran Marušič and Alojz Valenčič as well as Zvonimir Miloš, a Croat with close links to the Slovenian community in Trieste, were executed on 6 September 1930 in Basovizza common.
They were sentenced to death in what is known as the First Trieste Trial for an attack on the newspaper Il Popolo di Trieste. The other 12 defendants were sent to prison.
Tried under Fascist laws, the four are still formally "terrorists", something their relatives would like Italy to change, especially because the other Slovenian patriots and antifascists sentenced to death at the Second Trieste Trial in 1941 were posthumously rehabilitated.
The Slovenian ethnic minority in Italy cherishes the memory of Basovizza Heroes with annual commemorations, which are also often attended by Slovenian officials.
The victims of the first and second Trieste trials were also posthumously honoured with Slovenia's Golden Order of Freedom for their fight against Nazism and Fascism and for loyalty to Slovenian identity in the darkest times of Italianisation.
What is one of the highest state honours was bestowed on them in 1997, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Primorska region with Slovenia.
In July, President Borut Pahor and Italian President Sergio Mattarella visited the Memorial to Basovizza Heroes alongside paying a visit to the Foiba of Basovizza, a karst pit which for Italians symbolises post-war summary killings by Partisans.
The move was seen by some as an act of reconciliation between the nations which had been on the opposite sides in the past, and as a revision of history by others.
Today's commemoration was addressed by Slovenian parliamentary Speaker Igor Zorčič, by Marija Bidovec, Ferdo Bidovec's niece, by Peter Močnik, a secretary of the SK Slovenian minority party, and by the head of the regional institute for the history of WWII resistance movement, Mauro Gialuz.
Addressing a sizeable gathering, Zorčič said the Basovizza Heroes had become a symbol of resistance to a murdering and oppressive regime and ideology that incited hatred and violence among people. They are heroes of the free Europe built on the foundations of anti-Fascism and resistance to all ideologies in the name of which people oppressed and killed each other.
The ceremony was attended by people from both sides of the border, including several senior officials, among them Minister for Slovenians Abroad Helena Jaklitsch, Slovenian Ambassador to Italy Tomaž Kunstelj, General Consul in Trieste Vojko Volk and Slovenian senator in Rome Tatjana Rojc.
In his address, Trieste Mayor Roberto Dipiazza said he did not deem the Basovizza Heroes terrorists. He mentioned Pahor's and Mattarella's joint visit to the Basovizza memorial and foiba and the symbolic return of Trieste Hall among the gestures that he said inspired hope for the future among the Slovenian and Italian communities.
Several other speakers noted the latest events as a new piece in the puzzle of reconciliation between the two nations and called for full rehabilitation of the Basovizza Heroes.
Later in the evening Archbishop of Ljubljana Stanislav Zore was to say mass at the local parish church, whereas Italian Senator Tatjana Rojc, a Slovenian minority member, delivered a speech.
The four patriots were also remembered in Slovenia with two commemorations on Friday, one in front of the University of Ljubljana and the other at the memorial to Basovizza Heroes in Kranj.
Historian Štefan Čok spoke about the values and message of Basovizza on Saturday at the memorial in Basovizza, and a number of events are planned for next week.
One of the highlights will be the presentation of Milan Pahor's book about Borba, an underground organisation whose members the four Basovizza victims were.
STA, 17 July 2020 - President Borut Pahor discussed Monday's return of National Hall in Trieste to the Slovenian minority, and his and Italian President Sergio Mattarella's visit to two memorials in Basovizza in an interview he gave to Mladina weekly. He said Italy transferring the centre's ownership onto the minority should not be taken for granted.
After the law on the Slovenian minority was passed in 2001 setting down the return of the former commercial and cultural centre to the minority, Italy had been considering leasing it to the minority, according to Pahor.
The president said the final decision to claim ownership was taken in mid-May when he had a video call with the heads of the two Slovenian minority organisations in Italy and the Slovenian consul general and ambassador to Italy.
"We were discussing whether to risk going all the way to claim National Hall ownership, or to accommodate for some other solution, for instance merely leasing it from Italy."
He said they had decided at the videoconference to reject Italy's proposal to return the centre just to be used by the minority and to insist on its ownership.
Only after this decision was made had a debate started on a ceremony accompanying the restitution event as well as on Pahor and Mattarela's visits to the memorials to the anti-Fascist victims and to the Italian victims of post-WWII killings, said the president.
Pahor thus rejected the notion of "quid pro quo" bargaining in that Italy would not have returned National Hall had he not visited the Foiba of Basovizza memorial.
He indicated that questions surrounding his and Mattarella's visit to the foiba memorial were hard issues, "but if I rely on my moral compass, I'm at peace".
"Both me and Italian President Mattarella felt all the way that we were doing something good."
Pahor is also aware that this gesture would not be necessarily interpreted in the same manner in Slovenia and Italy.
He was asked whether Italy should not have accompanied Pahor's visit to the foiba memorial with some other more substantive gesture, such as "giving more weight to" the 2000 report on Slovenian-Italian relations in 1880-1956 which, was compiled by historians from both countries.
Pahor said that Slovenia did expect Italy to "more attentively read the report and foremost to take it into account".
He said he did not think, based on what we know, that there are actually the remains of those killed after WWII in the Foiba of Basovizza, as they are mostly in other caves.
But he also noted that for Mattarella as a jurist, visiting the Slovenian anti-Fascists memorial, was a legal issue, since under Italian law they are still terrorists.
"If Mattarella went there, then this is a kind of an act which implies rehabilitation" of the four anti-Fascists, executed in 1930, according to Pahor.
He also said that his family had suffered under Fascism and that his grandfather had taught him that "we have to be proud, but that the other side also needs to be allowed its pride".
"Without this historical knowledge, I would not have gone that far," said Pahor in defence of his visit to the foiba memorial.
He also told Mladina that he had been raised in the anti-Fascist spirit and that he would not shy of saying he is an anti-Fascist.