STA, 12 January 2020 - Several thousand people made the pilgrimage to the village of Dražgoše in north-west Slovenia on Sunday to attend a ceremony marking the 78th anniversary of a battle that is seen as one of the defining events of WWII on Slovenian soil.
The first event of the year on the annual calendar of major celebrations of WWII turning points, the ceremony commemorates a battle that started on 9 January 1942, when the 200-strong Cankarjev Battalion tried to stop German troops advancing towards the village of Dražgoše.
It was fought in deep snow and below-zero temperatures against some 2,000 Nazi Germans to prevent the deportations of locals. After three days, the German troops reached the village and killed twenty locals and another twenty in retaliation after the Partisans retreated.
The Nazis, who lost over 100 soldiers, completely destroyed the village and drove the survivors out. The Partisans lost nine soldiers.
Senior official including President Borut Pahor, Speaker Dejan Židan, Defence Minister Karl Erjavec, former president Milan Kučan and several other cabinet members and MPs from the ranks of leftist parties were on hand today.
The turnout reflects the historical division over WWII that persist through this day, with leftist parties celebrating Partisan achievements during WWII and rightist parties and media decrying the Dražgoše ceremony as a "red orgy".
Osrednja slovesnost ob 63. prireditvi “Po stezah partizanske Jelovice” ob 78. letnici dražgoške bitke. PRS je pri spomeniku v Dražgošah položil venec. pic.twitter.com/rKdMBcV9Bj— Borut Pahor (@BorutPahor) January 12, 2020
The keynote speaker today, the poet Ervin Fritz, used the opportunity to decry neoliberal capitalism, which he said should be the subject of "radical critique", while extolling the virtues of socialism, even as he acknowledged it has its mistakes and had become "degenerated" in Yugoslavia to the extent that Slovenia's national independence was jeopardised.
This necessitated leaving Yugoslavia, but in doing so Slovenia went from bad to worse, he asserted. "That present-day Slovenia is the realisation of the dreams of centuries and millennia is merely rhetorical hubris, for the renowned protagonists of independence had carried out a counter-revolution at the same time - the restoration of capitalism," he said.
As a result, all public good has become prey and "now we allow the sell-off of all that had been created. We give domestic and foreign predators freedom to act, he said.