STA, 25 February 2019 - Following President Borut Pahor's recent assessment that the work of the government commission for mass graves has "become not only socially acceptable but also socially accepted", substantial progress in the field has also been confirmed by the commission's vice-president Mitja Ferenc.
So far 233 mass graves and post-WWII execution sites have been confirmed and registered in Slovenia. Full or partial reburial was performed at 129, while the the existence of body remains has been confirmed for the remaining 104, Ferenc told the weekly paper Reporter.
The historian attributes major importance to the 2015 act on concealed mass graves and the burial of victims, adopted under a centre-left coalition at the initiatives of the centre-right opposition New Slovenia (NSi).
In the last three years, 162 summary execution sites were marked and tended to. The remains of at least 2,532 bodies were discovered in them and 1,615 were buried, he said.
The commission's main project presently is the Larch Hill mass grave in the south-east of the country, where he hopes exhumation will already start in the spring.
Expecting to discover around 1,500 victims, Ferenc said "the objects found near the pit indicate that Slovenian victims lie inside".
While asserting that the EUR 480,000 allocated to the commission by the state annually suffice for its tasks, Ferenc is not happy with the attitude of the Economy Ministry.
He said legislation tasked the commission with a large number of tasks that are demanding and require assistance. A key issue are delays in tenders and unreasonable deadlines, which for instance give the commission six weeks for reburial on demanding terrain and winter conditions.
Meanwhile, Ferenc said that concealed mass graves are not the only problem in Slovenia: "We have a neglectful attitude to all grave sites, including those of the Partisan forces. They are not looked after, the registry is not systematic, there are also sites that do not really contain any victims."
Ferenc, who said it was time to stop looking away, announced an initiative to establish an institute for war graves, to be presented on the occasion of the nearing tenth anniversary of the entry into Huda Jama, a site which contained 1,416 victims.
STA, 16 February 2019 - Prime Minister Marjan Šarec has criticised the conduct of senior Italian politicians in the aftermath of controversial statements made by European Parliament President Antonio Tajani and Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini last week, saying that historical revisionism was "completely misguided".
"This is reminiscent of Marshal [Pietro] Badoglio, who took over the government after Mussolini and succeeded in Italy hardly being recognised as a country in which Fascism was in power. Germany has gone through profound denazification, Italy has not had such a process," Šarec told Večer in an interview published on Saturday.
"As a Slovenian, I'm sensitive to falsification of history and in such cases things have to be said clearly. The Slovenian nation has never attacked anybody, it never had territorial designs, on the contrary, we lost a lot, which is why depictions of Slovenians as occupying forces need to be forcefully resisted," he said.
Šarec was among the first Slovenian officials to respond after Tajani and Salvini addressed a ceremony in Basovizza, Italy on Sunday marking the day of remembrance for Italian victims of post WWII-executions. He called the statements "unparalleled revisionism" and said Fascism's goal had been to destroy the Slovenian nation.
While Salvini has expressed surprise at Šarec's comments and reactions in Slovenia overall, Tajani issued several apologies, after his first comments were interpreted as a textbook example of a non-apology.
Šarec told the newspaper what Tajani had initially said was "not an apology. It sounded as if you called someone a complete idiot, they demand an apology, and you say: 'Sorry, you really aren't a complete idiot.' This is just saying the same thing differently."
In Slovenia disputes over postwar history are not rare and Šarec has faced his share of criticism for several speeches he has delivered at ceremonies commemorating the victims of WWII, but he says that he is "not the one bringing up history".
"I don't raise such issues, nor does the Marjan Šarec List, other politicians do it. But I will never not react to statements that do not belong in the 21st century. Polarisation is not good, we should learn from history by acknowledging what was wrong and celebrating what was good."
Asked whether Slovenia's support for Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido "is a turn of Slovenian foreign policy towards the US", Šarec said it was not.
"It's not a turn in foreign policy. We always try to have good relations with all. We also don't have very close relations or too many visits with Russia."
He added he did not consider the support for Guaido as turning in the US direction "because we are Europeans".
"The whole EU has problems with the US policy of President Donald Trump," Šarec said, noting "twitter diplomacy does not suit us". As a small country, Slovenia must also pay attention to its own interests, he told the Maribor-based newspaper.
STA, 15 February 2019 - Slovenia's European Commissioner Violeta Bulc has invited European Parliament President Antonio Tajani to join her in paying respect to Slovenian victims of fascist and Nazi violence by visiting the former Nazi concentration camp Risiera in Trieste and the nearby village of Basovizza.
Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc issued the invitation in a letter after a Twitter exchange with Tajani in the wake of his recent contentious speech at a commemoration of Italian victims of WWII aftermath events.
While Tajani said "I'm ready" as the proposal was made by Bulc in the 11 February Twitter exchange in which the commissioner accused him of distorting historical facts, he has not yet responded to the letter.
All our stories about Facism in relations to Slovenia can be found here
Bulc is proposing they jointly lay wreaths at Risiera and at a memorial near the village of Basovizza to honour the deaths of three Slovenian and a Croatian anti-fascists at the hands of Italian soldiers in 1930. They are considered the first victims of fascism in Europe.
It was Basovizza where Tajani remembered the Italian victims of post-war executions and Italian exiles from the regions of Istria and Dalmatia last Sunday, calling out "Long live Trieste, long live the Italian Istria, long live the Italian Dalmatia" in the process. He has since apologised for these words.
In the letter, Bulc welcomes Tajani's willingness to accompany her and proposes that the gesture be made on "25 April to commemorate Italy's Liberation Day".
"In these challenging times for the EU it is more important than ever before to promote the EU as project for peace, solidarity and unity and as bringing prosperity to all our nations," Bulc wrote in the letter, which she also published on Twitter.
"History teaches us that aggressive nationalism can easily be misused for nationalistic conflicts and even fuel war. I believe that society is today ready to build its future on cooperation and respect for one another."
STA, 13 February 2019 - The statement European Parliament President Antonio Tajani made in Italy's Basovizza on Sunday can also be understood as territorial claims, so I reject it completely, President Borut Pahor said on Wednesday. Tajani has meanwhile apologised for the statement after meeting Slovenian and Croatian MEPs over the matter.
"I expect Tajani to fully distance himself from his words," Pahor said on the sidelines of his calling the elections to the European Parliament in Slovenia.
He expects Tajani to realise his words were wrong and distance himself from them, which should be done as soon as possible to calm down the debate they have sparked off.
Pahor referred to the statement "Long live Trieste, long live Italian Istria, long live Italian Dalmatia, long live Italian exiles" Tajani made at the commemoration of the remembrance day for the Italian foibe victims.
He believes that in politics this is not an unimportant matter but a major issue which justifiably worries those to whom it refers.
Pahor added that Europe, which is built on reconciliation and mutual respect, cannot turn a blind eye to such words.
This is not the first time that senior Italian officials expressed unacceptable stances and assessments, Pahor stressed.
"But it is the first time that this happened in the context of European politics, when the European idea of integration and cooperation is weak, when there are serious signs of its crisis, when such stances are increasingly worrying."
It is due to these circumstances that Pahor expects the European Parliament president to come up with an appropriate and clear response.
Tajani met the Slovenian and Croatian MEPs from the European People's Party (EPP) group today and apologised for Sunday's statements in Basovizza after the meeting.
"I sincerely regret and I apologise for using the words which may have offended your citizens and which have been understood as a kind of a territorial claim. I assure you that this was neither my intention nor position on the matter," he said in a statement.
Tajani added that he was referring to the Italian-speaking exiles from Istria and Dalmatia, their children and grandchildren, many of whom attended the ceremony in Basovizza.
He said that his political career offered much evidence of his friendship and respect of Croatia and Slovenia, and added that all forms of totalitarianism deserved resolute condemnation.
Slovenian MEPs Franc Bogovič (EPP/SLS) and Lojze Peterle (EPP/NSi) said after the meeting that they were satisfied with the apology.
The EPP meanwhile announced that Tajani would also send a letter in a similar vein to Slovenian Foreign Minister Miro Cerar, who wrote to the European Parliament president about the matter yesterday.
Pahor addressed a letter about the incident to Italian President Sergio Mattarella already on Monday.
STA, 27 January 2019 - Slovenia is marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day, with events coming up in Ljubljana, Lendava and Ptuj today after having already been held around the country earlier this week. University professor Maca Jogan says that remembering Holocaust is important for distinguishing between the perpetrators and victims.
Jogan, professor emeritus from the University in Ljubljana who was the keynote speaker at a memorial ceremony in Ljubljana's Kino Šiška last Sunday, told the STA that equalising the perpetrators with those who suffered under them and fought against them needed to end.
The line between the two sides is being blurred in Slovenia since the 1990s by "all sorts of quasi journalists and then politicians", who wrap it in the language of tolerance.
"Anti-Semitism (with Jews as target) has been replaced in Slovenia in the last three decades with anticommunism (with Partisans as targets and perceived as criminals)," Jogan said.
All our stories on Jewish Slovenia can be found here
This also explains the results of an Eurobarometer survey published earlier this week, which showed that in Slovenia "only" 12% of respondents see anti-Semitism as a problem, while in the EU the share stands at about 50%.
The current situation should be addressed through education and remembrance of concrete victims, concrete perpetrators and concrete circumstances that had led to the crimes of Holocaust. "These were not just political or ideological, there was a big industry behind it."
In education, the danger is to reduce the Holocaust to the suffering of Jews and the Roma, Jogan said, pointing to Italy, where they spoke only of the crimes of Germans against Italians.
She also noted that a number of indicators showed that Israel was monopolising the right to Holocaust remembrance. "This is not acceptable, because overall the number of Jewish victims was lower than of all other victims combined."
In Slovenia, a series of cultural and educational events remembering Holocaust victims is held in January every year.
President Borut Pahor labelled the Second World War the "biggest aberration from moral standards in human history" as he addressed the main ceremony marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day in Maribor on Friday.
International Holocaust Remembrance Day commemorates the genocide by the Nazi regime and its collaborators which resulted in the deaths of an estimated six million Jewish people, five million Slavs, thousands of Roma people, thousands of mentally and physically disabled people, and thousands homosexuals.
Some 63,000 Slovenians were taken to Nazi and Fascist concentration camps during the Second World War and 12,000 of them never returned home.
27 January commemorates the day when Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi concentration and death camp, was liberated by the Red Army.
Between 1.1 and 1.5 million people, Jews and members of 26 other nations, mostly Slavic, including 1,700 Slovenians, died in Auschwitz during the war either in gas chambers or during scientific experiments.
The UN declared 27 January International Holocaust Remembrance Day in 2005 and Slovenia has been observing it since 2008.
On the global level, this year's Holocaust Remembrance Day is marked by calls for human rights protection.
STA, 20 October 2018 - Addressing a ceremony commemorating fallen WWII resistance members in Žužemberk on Saturday, Prime Minister Marjan Šarec stressed the importance of the movement for "our freedom" while also regretting the "events after the war that our nation cannot be proud of."
Last weekend saw a ceremony in Teharje to remember those killed in the aftermath of World War 2, a group that included those who collaborated with the Nazis, those who opposed the Communists, and those who were caught in the middle of an impossible situation, often grouped together under the name Domobranci, the Slovene Home Guard, with the war in Europe, and Slovenia in particular, being a far more complicated and less black and white affair than it appears from the British or American perspective.
STA, 7 October 2018 - An estimated 5,000 victims of war and post-war summary executions were remembered at a commemoration at the Teharje Memorial Park near Celje on Sunday, with the keynote speaker France Cukjati saying at the event that Slovenia was still trapped in hatred, exclusion and divisions.
In what may the last of the recent series of posts on Slovenia in WW2, at least for a while, this week’s trip to the archives has come back with some of the more striking images of the country near the end of the war and just after. All of these were taken in 1945, sourced from Wikimedia, and are in the public domain, with the photographer named if known.