STA, 19 October 2020 - Below is a timeline of major events since the first case of coronavirus was confirmed in Slovenia in March 2020.
4 March - The first case of coronavirus infection is confirmed in Slovenia.
6 March - The government bans all visits to hospitals and nursing homes.
7 March - Public events in indoor spaces for more than 500 people are banned. A total of 12 infections confirmed in the country.
10 March - The government bans public gatherings indoors for more than 100 people and arrivals of flights from risky areas.
11 March - Slovenia introduces controls on the border with Italy; entry is allowed only at six checkpoints under certain conditions. Healthcare institutions suspend non-urgent preventive services.
12 March - Slovenia declares an epidemic of the novel coronavirus as almost 100 cases are confirmed. Kindergartens and schools close and primary and secondary school students switch to remote learning. Shops with non-essential goods, restaurants and bars are closed, as well as cultural institutions and libraries. Air passenger transport is suspended and public passenger transport is banned, except with taxis. Non-urgent medical services are suspended. All sporting events are cancelled. The border with Italy is closed for cargo transport and for international railway and bus passenger transport, with some exceptions.
18 March - Slovenia closes 27 local border crossings with Croatia, and only four checkpoints remain on the border with Italy. Many production companies temporarily suspend their work.
20 March - A general ban on gatherings and movement in public spaces, with some exceptions, enters into force.
20 March - The National Assembly passes the first package of measures to help the economy.
30 March - A decree limiting the movement of people to within the municipality of one's residence, with certain exceptions, enters into force.
2 April - The National Assembly passes the first anti-corona legislative package designed to help the affected companies and individuals. The measures were estimated at EUR 3 billion.
11 April - With the first signs of the epidemic waning, suspension of non-essential specialist medical services is lifted.
18 April - Maintenance and seasonal work on private land outside one's municipality of residence is allowed under certain conditions. Some sport and recreational activities are allowed within one's municipality of residence. A few days later, certain shops and service workshops are reopened.
28 April - The National Assembly passes the second anti-corona stimulus package, which includes state guarantees for liquidity loans to companies.
30 April - Exactly one month after being introduced, the ban on leaving one's municipality of residence is lifted. Visits to nursing homes are allowed, and a day earlier, cultural institutions and libraries re-open.
4 May - After several weeks, service is allowed in outdoor areas of restaurants and bars. Churches and some non-food shops, as well as hairdressers and beauty parlours reopen.
9 May - All healthcare and dental services are allowed again.
11 May - Public transport is re-launched after eight weeks, while international passenger transport continues to stand still. International air passenger transport is relaunched a day later.
15 May - The mandatory quarantine for Slovenian citizens and citizens of other EU member states upon entry in Slovenia is lifted. It remains in force for citizens of third countries.
18 May - Preschools reopen and children in the first three grades of primary schools and of the final grade of secondary school return to school. All shops and accommodation facilities with up to 30 rooms are allowed to reopen, and restaurants and bars are able to serve guests indoors as well.
18 May - The government creates lists of red, yellow and green countries relative to their epidemiological situation.
23 May - A majority of sports activities are relaunched, except in fitness centres and similar facilities.
25 May - Students of the final grade of primary school are allowed to attend school in person, while nursing homes and other social security institutions start accepting new residents.
26 May - A decree mandating a 14-day quarantine for citizens of EU member states and third countries enters into force, except for the green-listed countries.
29 May - The National Assembly passes the third anti-corona stimulus package, worth EUR 1 billion. The main measures are subsidies for shortened working time and tourism vouchers for facilities in Slovenia for all citizens. Subsidies for furloughed workers are extended.
31 May - After 80 days, the Covid-19 epidemic is officially declared over, as the daily number of infections drops below ten.
1 June - Students of the 4th and 5th grades of primary school return to school, and the number of children in units in primary schools and kindergartens no longer needs to be limited. Public events for up to 200 persons are allowed and all hotels, fitness centres and swimming pools are allowed to re-open. Night clubs remain closed.
3 June - Students of grades 6-8 of primary school return to school, while students of grades 1-3 of secondary school finish their school year remotely.
5 June - Austria is put on the list of countries from where entry is possible without limitations.
15 June - Public gatherings of up to 500 people are allowed. The restrictions on the border with Italy, introduced on 12 March, are lifted. International road and railway passenger transport is relaunched two days earlier.
19 June - The tourism voucher scheme enters into force, with the Financial Administration (FURS) transferring credit to all residents - EUR 200 per adults and EUR 50 per minor.
22 June - After two months of single-digit number of new daily cases, a double-digit daily number is recorded for the first time, mainly involving cases imported from abroad.
4 July - The government removes Croatia, France and the Czech Republic from the green list. Slovenia records a total of around 200 active infections.
9 July - The National Assembly confirms a new anti-coronavirus stimulus package with an emphasis on job preservation, mostly by extending subsidies for furloughed workers. A mobile contact tracing app is introduced. Gatherings of up to 10 people are banned, and gatherings of up to 50 persons are allowed only if the attendees are registered. Religious ceremonies and sporting events for up to 500 participants are still allowed.
18 July - A Covid-19 death is recorded for the first time after 31 May to increase the overall death toll in Slovenia to 112.
21 July - EU leaders agree on a pandemic recovery package, under which Slovenia may count on EUR 10.5 billion, including EUR 6.6 billion in grants.
23 July - The government adopts a new national plan for protection and rescue of people in the case of pandemic based on the experience with Covid-19. Restrictions on working time of food shops are lifted and stores are allowed to open Sundays.
25 August - Due to a deteriorating epidemiological situation in Croatia and the fact that many infections are imported from there, the government introduces quarantine for travellers returning from that country.
1 September - The new school year starts normally at all levels, albeit with number of precautionary measures in place.
2 September - A jump in new daily cases is recorded (55), and the number of active cases increases to around 500. Two days later, the government orders mandatory use of face masks and hand sanitation in public indoor spaces.
10 September - The daily number of new infections exceeds 100 for the first time, and the trend of a fast increase in the number of new cases starts. Infections start spreading in nursing homes and educational institutions.
13 September - The government reduces the mandatory quarantine upon entry from red-listed countries from 14 to 10 days.
19 September - Face masks are again mandatory in open public spaces where a large number of people gather, for example, at food markets. Employers are recommended to measure body temperature of employees, and opening hours of restaurants and bars are restricted to 6am-10pm.
29 September - The government adopts a new anti-coronavirus legislative package introducing new and extending the existing measures focusing on job preservation, care for the elderly and prevention of the spread of infections.
9 October - New restrictive measures enter into force. Gatherings are restricted to up to 10 people, and events with up to 500 people are allowed only with a permit from the health authorities, and held without food and drink served. Service in restaurants and bars and the number of shoppers in shops is limited.
12 October - A decree enters into force under which no country in the EU or the Schengen Area is on the green list.
15 October - The total number of confirmed cases in Slovenia exceeds 10,000, and a day later a record daily number of new cases (almost 900) is recorded.
16 October - Almost all statistical regions are classified as red zones based on epidemiological parameters, meaning that movement from and between them is banned. Face masks become mandatory in the open and gatherings of more than 10 persons are prohibited. Restaurants and bars are closed and certain sport activities are suspended in these regions.
19 October - An epidemic is declared once again, and the national protection and rescue plan is activated. Primary school students up from and including the 6th grade and secondary school students switch back to remote learning.
All our stories on coronavirus and Slovenia
STA, 8 October 2020 - Two years after the end of World War I, a Slovenian minority would end up on the other side of the Karawanks following a plebiscite in Carinthia that determined the border between Austria and the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. While the outcome of the vote was the product of several factors, what followed was a period of revanchism.
The plebiscite was held on 10 October 1920 under the provisions of the Treaty of Saint-Germain, signed a year earlier by the allied powers that won World War I on the one hand and the Republic of German-Austria on the other.
While parts of Carinthia now in Slovenia (Meža Valley and Jezersko) were to be incorporated into the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, the fate of southern Carinthia down to the Klagenfurt basin was to be determined by a plebiscite, under the principle of self-determination championed by US President Woodrow Wilson.
Before the vote, the Klagenfurt basin was divided into two zones; Zone A in the south with a predominately Slovenian speaking population and the smaller Zone B, which comprised Klagenfurt and its surroundings. Zone B was to hold a referendum only if a majority of voters in Zone A would have opted for what had already at the time been known as Yugoslavia.
However, with the turnout at almost 96%, 22,025 ballots or 59.04% of the vote cast was in favour of Austria, against 15,279 or 40.96%, who opted for Yugoslavia.
In their 2003 textbook, historians Dušan Nećak and Božo Repe estimate that at least 10,000 Carinthian Slovenes voted in favour of Austria, while some historians estimate a majority of the Slovens eligible to vote opted for Austria.
Despite having posted military victories ahead of the plebiscite, the Slovene side suffered a diplomatic defeat at the Paris peace conference and another one at the ballot box.
Poster in Slovene ("Let us go and vote! It is our sacred duty, our homeland is calling us. You are Carinthians, and you should remain Carinthians!"), featuring zones A and B. (Wikipedia)
Historian Andrej Rahten, a former Slovenian ambassador to Austria, says that several factors were at play in the outcome of the plebiscite, however the battle for Carinthia had already been lost during the Habsburg monarchy.
"Even before World War I, Slovenians in Carinthia saw an adverse demographic trend, going from one quarter of Carinthia's population in the 1900 census by speaking language, which was biased methodologically, to a good fifth in 1910, and then, in the first post-plebiscite census in 1923, to one tenth."
Rahten, talking with the Slovenian and Austrian press agencies, STA and APA, in a joint interview, says the key role in the decision for the plebiscite was played by US President Thomas Woodrow Wilson.
If it had not been for France's support of Yugoslavia, the demarcation would have been even more harmful for Slovenians, he says; if you asked the Americans, they would have assigned Carinthia north of the Karawanks to Austria even without a plebiscite.
This was because of the belief that Austria, which had to accept secessions of some other border territories with practically no referendum rights, should be given some territorial concession lest it should become part of some great Germany.
Rahten believes the plebiscite result would have been very different had it not been for the Karawanks mountain range, which represented not only a physical but also a psychological barrier.
"The decisive element was economic reasons"; for centuries Klagenfurt and Villach had been traditional markets for Carinthian farmers, while now they were supposed to be replaced by Ljubljana.
Similarly, British historian Robert Knight offers economic interests as one possible explanation why Slovenians opted for Austria, along with the appeal, or lack thereof, of Yugoslavia with respect to Catholicism or the monarchy.
The Austrian propaganda played an important role; it emphasised economic benefits of the undivided Klagenfurt basin, regional identity, links between Slovenian- and German-speaking inhabitants and the cultural differences between Catholic Austria and Orthodox Serbia as the leading nation in Yugoslavia.
Historian Tamara Griesser-Pečar, in one of her articles, also notes the significance of the Carinthian Slovenians' attachment to their land, as well as social, economic, religious and political reasons and their bad experiences with the Yugoslav authorities.
The results by municipality. Paasikivi CC-by-SA-4.0
A vital factor why Slovens opted for Austria would have been Austria's pledge to protect the minority's rights, passed by the provincial assembly in Klagenfurt in September 1920.
However, as early as 25 November 1920, Arthur Lemisch, the head of the province's provisional government, publicly advocated in the provincial assembly for Carinthian Slovenians to be Germanised within a generation.
The nationalist sentiment in Austria only grew between both world wars, resulting in further assimilation of Carinthian Slovenians. It was not until 1955 that they had their rights guaranteed in the Austrian State Treaty but they are yet to fully enjoy them.
Rahten and Knight, a historian from University College London who has studied the fate of Carinthian Slovenians, have talked to the STA and APA about the dark period in the wake of the plebiscite, about revanchism, persecution and scaremongering.
The Slovenians who voted for Austria were expected to assimilate, become German, while the others had to be induced to move south through a mixture of "pressure, persuasion and structural coercion", says Knight.
There were also opposing forces as for example in Social Democracy, "but by and large, Carinthian politics was also aimed at intolerance, exclusion and ethnic homogenization", although Knight does not see that as something distinctly Carintihan.
"The plebiscite definitely made the tensions only worse and it took decades, through change of generations, for those first months of revanchism to be gradually and slowly put behind," Rahten says.
He notes physical assaults on people accused to have voted for Yugoslavia, even if they may have not, arson attacks on the homes of Slovenian patriots, and the perpetrators going punished.
Before the plebiscite, Carinthian officials had been promising that no one would be hurt, that everyone would enjoy equal rights, that Slovenians would be better off than in the old Austria, but just the opposite happened.
"The promises were soon broken. What followed soon after can simply be called revanchism (...) which led to the Slovene elite being driven out of Carinthia," says Rahten, noting that an estimated 3,000 refugees fled Carinthia after the plebiscite.
At the same time, "the political impotence when it came to protection of the Slovene minority's rights in Carinthia was offset by very harsh measures taken against the Germans who were left in Yugoslav Slovenia", such as forced Slovenisation of German schools.
The relationship between the majority and minority in Austrian Carinthia had begun to mend only after Slovenia declared independence in 1991 where Austria played a key role in the country's international recognition.
Like in the case of the Slovenian minority in Italy, the atmosphere for the minority in Carinthia improved further after Slovenia joined the EU in 2004 and the Schengen area three years later.
Knight, noting that the centenary celebrations appear to have taken a different course after neglect of the Slovenian minority and its language in the past, believes the main emphasis of commemoration of 1920 should be on honouring the promise made publicly on the eve of the vote, that is to preserve the minority's unique identity.
Here's a video for those interested in Slovenian history and the Slovenian language. It's a documentary produced by the Ministry of Defence (Ministrstvo za obrambo) in 2014, which makes use of photos and film from the years in question to bring the story alive. Anyone learning the language will be pleased to know that it's presented in clear Slovenian, with reliable subtitles.
Last week saw the return the National Hall (Narodni dom) in Trieste (Trst) to Slovenian hands a century after it was burned down in an act of anti-Slovene violence that’s seen as the start of Fascism. By coincidence, the same day I learned of a new novel about that era, and life in the city that was once home to the largest Slovenian population outside of Ljubljana, His Most Italian City, by Margaret Walker. I sent her some questions, and she was kind of enough to answer…
What’s your connection to Slovenian Trieste?
I was adopted as a baby and my birth mother Silvana (1920 – 2020) was Istrian. It has taken me my whole life to discover her history. She was born in Tar and her father was born in Trieste in 1886. Her grandmother (her mother’s mother) was a Slovenian from a village near the Austrian border. Silvana worked as an interpreter for the Allied Military Government in Trieste after the war. In 1950, she emigrated to Australia.
Silvana in 1927...
...and in 1947
Of Istria, my mother said, ‘We were Austrian, then Austria lost the war. Then we were Italian and Italy lost the war.’ I believe that she just thought of herself as Istrian. She became Yugoslavian after the war and her parents became Italian. Am I confused? Yes.
What can you tell us about the novel?
It’s a work of historical fiction, and I chose that genre so that the history might be more easily accessible to a wide audience.
The story begins in 1928, because that was when Mussolini’s government changed my birth mother’s family name from Micatovich [Micatovič, Micatovik] to Di Micheli. My original intention was to record what she had told us about her childhood in Istria. Because I love sea stories and submarines, I also wanted to incorporate elements of the Austro-Hungarian navy into the narrative, and I began to read about the modern history of Italy and Trieste. My website contains a selected bibliography.
TIGR logo - Wikipedia
The more I researched, the more evident it became that any story about Trieste in the 1920’s had to include the conflict between Fascist Italy and the Slovenians. I read about the anti-Fascist group TIGR (Trst, Istria, Gorica, Rijeka) and the Fascist attack on the Narodni dom in 1920 and I wondered how I could incorporate these into the novel. This was when I came up with the idea of a group of men working for TIGR led by Stefan Pirjevec, a former submarine captain in the Austro-Hungarian navy whose wife had died in the fire in the Narodni dom. The character is based on my neighbour who was a captain in the Australian Merchant Navy. Sydney Harbour, where I live, is a busy passenger port so, whenever I wrote about the port of Trieste in the 1920’s when it was much busier than it was during my recent visits, I had to imagine that it was Sydney.
What other research did you do?
As well as history textbooks and websites, I read several rare books written in the 1800’s about boat journeys from Trieste. The best was Rambles in Istria (RHR, London 1875). I read Necropolis by Boris Pahor in English and Piazza Oberdan in German. Unfortunately, my German’s not very good, but I did my best.
And what else did you learn in writing the book?
I originally trained in mathematics and science and, as my research continued, I noticed that Italy had a huge population compared to the population of Slovenia: 40 million to 1.3 million. I asked myself why such a large country should have felt so threatened by a Slovenian minority in Trieste.
The answer came from the historian Gianfranco Cresciani. Dr Cresciani was born in Trieste and lives in Sydney. He explained the perils that nationalism could hold for some individuals. I am Australian and Australians are not nationalistic. I found the Italian ultra-nationalism (or Fascism) of one hundred years ago very hard to comprehend, particularly its racism and violence, and its vitriolic anti-Slav propaganda. However, both Boris Pahor and Jan Morris (Trieste and the Meaning of Nowhere) noted that the majority of Trieste’s population were conservative, and didn’t want such radical politics.
Trst je naš (Trieste is ours) remains popular in Slovenian memes
Finally, what’s the blurb for His Most Italian City, and where can people find it?
First, you can get a copy from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, or direct from the publisher, Penmore Press. You can also see a review from the American Historical Novel Society, and if you’re curious about me I have a website, too, plus a blog that mainly focuses on submarines.
Now the blurb:
Fascist Italy 1928. Trieste, once the port of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, has become Italian. As fascism strives violently to create a pure Italy along its streets, Matteo Brazzi is forced to choose his loyalties with care. When his office is bombed, the police are baffled, but Brazzi knows who committed the crime, and he knows why. Though he is no seaman, he can easily identify the dark shape that disappeared into the Gulf of Trieste that dramatic night and, as he escapes to Cittanova in Istria, the mysterious vessel follows him down the coast. Brazzi has successfully exploited fascism to protect himself - many people would call him a traitor - but he’s only ever had one real love. Now Nataša is dead and Brazzi owes his share of the blame. Too soon he discovers that not even Mussolini can save him from an enemy who is bent on revenge.
STA, 15 July 2020 - One hundred years to the day the first ever doctorate was awarded at a Slovenian university. Ana Mayer received a doctorate in chemistry after completing at the newly-established University of Ljubljana her chemistry studies which she started in Vienna before the collapse of Austria-Hungary.
Mayer, born in 1895 in Lože near Vipava, south-western Slovenia, started studying chemistry and physics at the Vienna university in 1914.
She was forced to leave in 1918 when the university decided after the end of WWI that all Slavic students must leave it, according to the kvarkadabra.net website.
Mayer continued her studies after Ljubljana got the first university in 1919, earning the doctorate on 15 July 1920 as the first student and the first women.
Even before her doctorate, she started working at the university as an assistant at the Chemistry Institute, as the first woman to teach at the university.
Although she wanted to continue the academic career, she quit in 1922 for what could be a lack of funding at the institute, her marriage to Evgen Kansky, a professor of medicine, or because she was pregnant.
She thus went into business, setting up a company which became synonymous with quality chemical substances and pursued a successful business career.
She also established a factory of diethyl ether and solvents for varnishes in Podgrad near Ljubljana, laying the foundations for the chemical and pharmaceutical industries in Slovenia. The factory was first seized by the Nazis and then nationalised by the communist authorities in 1948.
Ana Mayer-Kansky had three children and died in 1962, whereas her husband, who was forced to retire in the autumn of 1945, died 15 years after her.
A painting of Ana Mayer-Kansky by Henrika Šantel,1932. Source: Wikipedia, publc domain
According to Slovenia's Statistics Office (SURS), almost 11,600 students have earned their doctorates in Slovenia since the country became independent in 1991.
There were over 3,300 doctoral students in the 2019/2020 academic year and in 2019 there were almost 13,200 persons with a PhD in Slovenia - a mere 0.6% of the population.
There was at least one person with a PhD in all but five Slovenian municipalities, while 18 municipalities had more than 100.
Ljubljana as the largest city and home to the oldest and largest Slovenian university had more than 5,530 doctors of science, which was 42% of all doctors in Slovenia.
The number of residents with a PhD in Slovenia is increasing, having risen by 585 a year over the past five years, according to SURS.
STA, 13 July 2020 - National Hall, a Slovenian centre in the heart of Trieste, was formally handed over to the Slovenian minority in Italy, as a document on its ownership transfer was signed on Monday with Slovenian and Italian presidents Borut Pahor and Sergio Mattarella on hand exactly 100 years after the original building was burnt down by Fascists.
The document sets down a timeline of the full handover, which will take several years, as the centre currently hosts one of the Trieste University schools.
It was signed by representatives of Italian authorities at various levels, the university's chancellor and the heads of both minority organisations, the SSO and KGZS.
Slovenian and Italian politicians hailed it as a milestone for the Slovenian minority as well as Slovenia-Italy ties, but also for Europe, testifying to its values.
President Pahor labelled it a historic event and an act that happens once in a hundred years. "The injustice has been remedied, justice has been done," he said in his address.
"What we're witnessing today is the forbidden dream coming true." At least for a day and metaphorically, Trieste is the capital of the EU because it celebrates the finest of values which are the foundations of the EU, he said.
His Italian counterpart Mattarella said that history could not be erased and the hard experiences people had experienced in this area could not be forgotten.
"This is why the present and the future call us to act in a responsible manner," he said, adding he and Pahor took a major step towards a dialogue of two cultures.
Slovenian Trieste-born writer Boris Pahor, who witnessed the torching of National Hall as a seven-year old, attended the event and was on the occasion decorated with Slovenia and Italy's highest state orders.
President Pahor then visited National Hall, saying today's events can serve as an inspiration "for our common European home" and further encouragement of the co-existence between Slovenia and Italy. They are unprecedented in the history of both nations, signalling "a new era".
Apart from attending the National Hall restitution event, Pahor and Mattarella went to the town of Basovizza to lay wreaths at the memorials to Slovenian victims of Fascism and to Italian victims of post-WWII killings, and jointly meet representatives of the Slovenian and Italian minorities, in what is the first such meeting.
Slovenian Foreign Minister Anže Logar, who attended the National Hall event together with Minister for Slovenians Abroad Helena Jaklitsch, spoke of a new page in the common future of the two nations, not only in Trieste but also in the EU.
His ministry also took the opportunity to again urge Italy to adopt a report on Slovenian-Italian relations in 1880-1956 which a commission of Slovenian and Italian historians compiled in 2000, and to take its findings into account when interpreting the periods of history the report covers.
National Hall was build in 1904 by the prosperous Slovenians from the area of Trieste as a unique state-of-the-art centre of commerce and culture.
Members of Italian Fascist and nationalist groups set it to fire on 13 July 1920, burning it to the ground, and then attacked another 21 Slavic institutions in Trieste.
The arson severely affected the political situation in the region, fuelling ethnic hate between Italians and Slovenians. After the Fascists came to power in 1922, ethnic minorities, including the Slovenian one, became a target of severe assimilation.
The centre was later nationalised, the minority claimed it back, but Italy committed to return it only in the 2001 law on the safeguarding of the Slovenian minority.
The restitution event was more modest than planned due to Covid-19 and the main cultural event marking the centenary of the arson was rescheduled to 13 July 2021.
Meanwhile, at the memorials in Basovizza Pahor and Mattarella held hands while standing in front of them in sign of reconciliation.
The Memorial to Basovizza Heroes is a site of the execution of three Slovenians and one Croat whom the Fascist authorities killed in September 1930.
The men were members of an illegal organisation set up in 1927 to organise a fight against the Fascist regime and its violent assimilation policy.
The Foiba of Basovizza is meanwhile a Karst chasm which the Italians have chosen as their symbolic memorial site for the victims of post-war killings.
Italy believes the communists threw the executed Italians in it, whereas some historians say it has been proven empty.
Pahor's visit to the foiba memorial recently stirred controversy in Slovenia, with some fearing it would give the Italian revisionists of history a fresh impetus.
Some 150 protesters gathered at a border crossing to protest against Pahor's act and a group appeared at the Memorial to Basovizza Heroes after the commemoration, accusing Pahor of treason.
The head of the 13 July Not In My Name civil initiative, Mauro Dornik, said Pahor paid his respects at a chasm which historians proved was empty.
By doing so, he "confirmed that we are a genocidal nation which went about killing Italians just because they were Italians", not because they were Fascists, and thus sided with Fascists.
He said that Mattarella had not posthumously amnestied the Slovenian anti-Fascists killed in Basovizza, which proved both presidents' tribute to the Slovenian victims of Fascism was not sincere.
There was also some opposition to the restitution of National Hall on the Italian far-right, with the CasaPound movement staging a small protest in Trieste.
STA, 11 July 2020 - Srebrenica needs to stay in our memory as a warning to the international community that such atrocities must never repeat or be permitted again. Denying or relativising these tragic events is unacceptable, the Foreign Ministry wrote to mark the 25th anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide. President Borut Pahor meanwhile urged reconciliation.
The ministry expects this year's commemoration to also be directed into the future. Slovenia is striving for a process of reconciliation in the area of the former Yugoslavia and for stability in the Western Balkans as a whole.
Many men began to leave the forests and surrender after realizing they had no escape. One such man was Ramo Osmanovic, who was forced by Serb soldiers to call his son, Nermin, into surrender. Both father and son were executed. #SrebrenicaGenocide pic.twitter.com/QwXsXgtPQK— Bosnian History (@BosnianHistory) July 11, 2020
The reconciliation process is key for harmony and mutual trust among nations and a European future for the region, Saturday's press release by the ministry says.
A quarter of a century is passing this year since more than 8,000 Bosniak Muslims, mainly men and boys, were killed by Bosnian Serb forces in a three-day massacre in and around the town of Srebrenica. Since 2009, 11 July has been a day for EU commemoration of the Srebrenica genocide.
The central ceremony is taking place at the Potočari memorial centre near Srebernica today, but due to the Covid-19 pandemic foreign state officials are not present in person.
Slovenian President Borut Pahor addressed participants via video, saying history could not change, but the future could. Key for the future of Bosnia-Herzegovina is truth as opposed to denial, respect as opposed to hate, open dialogue as opposed to conflicts, he said.
Forgiveness and respect for diversity is vital, he added, arguing reconciliation is not action of the past but a guarantee for coexistence and friendship that comes from a shared pain.
Moreover, a peaceful, European future for Bosnia-Herzegovina requires courage. Courage is the only thing - despite terrible pain that accompanies the memory of the victims of genocide - that can lead to forgiveness, reconciliation, dialogue, cooperation and restored trust, Pahor added in the address published on Twitter.
Water mills used to be a common sight in the Slovenian countryside. Inland, the owners of the mills were usually feudal landowners; i.e. the castle mills would mainly grind grain for the needs of the Lord. Smaller craft and peasant mills would on the other hand grind only for their own needs, and in the Littoral the owners of the mills were often townships. To enable milling, the accompanying activity of making millstones was developed.
At the beginning of the 19th century, water mills were still regulated by the 1770 Mill Order, which prescribed sanitary measures and customer protection provisions. The Mill Order paid special attention to the care of millstones. During times with a low water level the miller was obliged to grind first for his customers and only then for himself. It was strictly forbidden for millers to discriminate between individual customers, and charging methods were also prescribed by the Order. Land lordships were in charge of controlling the implementation of the Mill Order.
In 1814 new provisions were included into the Mill Order, requiring professional training on the part of the mill owner, and customers were now free to choose the mill where they would grind grain and allowed to be present at the grinding. The miller was obliged to grind the grain of each customer separately, and was not allowed to mix it with other customers’.
The water-flow energy was also used for log, saws and sometimes both devices were combined in one place.
With the introduction of the steam engine, mills began to move from the riversides to the shore. The first steam engine in Slovenia was set up in Trieste in 1819 by a Frenchman, Sonnerat. Instead of millstones roller mills were used, the capacity of which exceeded the previous methods of grinding several times. Further enlargements of these mills also required new propellants. All this led to the collapse of the old stone mills and water drive systems.
The introduction of roller mills (first in 1850 in Ljubljana, then in Ajdovščina, Domžale, Kranj, Maribor and Središče ob Dravi) marked the beginning of the Slovenian milling industry. In connection with the steam mill plants, several pasta factories emerged in Ljubljana, Maribor and Ilirska Bistrica in the last years of the 19th century, and most notably the Pekatete pasta plant from Bistrica, the brand that survived almost a century before being merged into Zlato polje pastas of Žito.
Although some 1,700 farm mills existed in the end of the 19th century, only a few survived to become part of today’s protected cultural heritage.
In 1945 the RTV Slovenia Big Band (Big Band RTV Slovenija) performed for the first time during the reopening ceremony of Postojna Cave at the end of the war.
Immediately after liberation, the conductor and composer Bojan Adamič, who had his own orchestra during the Second World War, began to gather musicians for his new band called the Dance Orchestra of Radio Ljubljana. Their first public performance happened on June 27, 1945 at the reopening of Postojna Cave. The Dance Orchestra of Radio Ljubljana, officially became part of Radio Ljubljana in the autumn of that year. In the period that was not in favor of "American imperialist" music, Adamič skillfully introduced jazz elements into the otherwise rather "socialist" repertoire and successfully conducted the orchestra for sixteen years.
In 1961, Adamič was succeeded by Jože Privšek, who managed to raise the Big Band to the top of European entertaining and serious music standards. Over the decades of its operation, the Big Band of RTV Slovenija has also organized a number of concerts and successful tours around Europe, recorded many albums, and above all made a decisive contribution to the development of jazz, instrumental and vocal pop music. You can follow them on Facebook here.
STA, 13 June 2020 - A ceremony on Saturday marked the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the only concentration camp on Slovenian soil, the labour camp below Ljubelj Pass. Speakers highlighted the need to preserve the memory of the atrocities and drew parallels with the present.
Jana Babšek, the director of the Tržič Museum, stressed that around 2,000 internees of what was a branch of the notorious Mauthausen camp were forced to work in harsh conditions for 23 months to build the mountain pass.
Commemoration of 75th anniversary of the liberation of the camp in Ljubelji, Mauthausen sub-camp, where 450 Poles were condemned to slave labor as part of the German policy of extermination— PLinSlovenia (@PLinSlovenia) June 14, 2020
Thny HE @BorutPahor & Trzić Museum for building memory of victims of nazism&totalitarism pic.twitter.com/cCvacMXtIC
"As we browse through the memories of the former inmates, who endured inhuman conditions and evil, two wishes transpire: never to forget what happened, and to prevent something similar from happening in the future," she said.
She said it was necessary to educate youths in particular and explain what had led to such extreme events, noting that the current circumstances were creating challenges that are in many ways very similar to those in the past.
Jani Alič, a senior official of the WWII Veterans' Association, likewise evoked the current global events when he said that "Our veterans say that if we defeated the enemy during the war, we will defeat the contemporary hidden enemy as well."
This year a series of large-scale events was supposed to be held around Europe to mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Nazi concentration camps, but many had to be cancelled or scaled back due to to the coronavirus epidemic. The ceremony at Ljubelj was therefore smaller than usual.
Predsednik Republike Slovenije Borut Pahor se je danes udeležil slovesnosti v spomin na 75. obletnico osvoboditve koncentracijskega taborišča pod Ljubeljem. Pred slovesnostjo je predsednik republike k spomeniku J'accuse – Obtožujem položil venec. pic.twitter.com/w66gFY4G5Z— Borut Pahor (@BorutPahor) June 13, 2020
Prior to the event, a wreath laying ceremony was held at the monument "J'accuse - Obtožujem" on the site of the camp. Delegations of several European countries laid wreaths, as did President Borut Pahor, who made special mention of the move by Germany and France to lay a wreath together.
"This is s nice symbolic event that invites everyone to remember the past in the spirit of reconciliation, and in particular to build Europe together," he said.
Ljubelj is the site of the remains of the only concentration camp in Slovenia, a branch of the notorious Mauthausen camp that served as a labour camp.
Around 1,800 internees, mostly political opponents of the Nazi regime and the majority of them French nationals, were forced to build a tunnel between Slovenia and Austria in very difficult conditions. At least 34 people died.
The camp was liberated on 8 May 1945.