by Damjan Prelovšek
Slovenes have never shown any special attention to the state ceremonial, and what is happening now surpasses all previous ones. The monument to the victims of all wars is a dead pile of concrete, which even the hard-to-recognize Župančič’s verse cannot bring to life. The two shapeless concrete blocks, behind which is a white, partially green wall, point more to the division of a nation still living from the aftermath of World War II than to an attempt at unity. It may have acted more convincingly as a mock-up, but with magnification it lost its meaning. An empty, architecturally unarticulated size is not in itself a monumentality.
The time of Plečnik and Ravnikar is far behind us, the latter of whom still knew how to create real memorials. The laying of a wreath on the day of the victims of total regimes on the floor next to the concrete wall sounded grotesque. The architects did not think about it and did not envisage a more suitable place for the flowers, although this is a fundamental function of every national monument. The president’s wreath waited on the ground without the slightest piety for Snaga to take it to the dump in a few days. This year, for All Saints’ Day or Remembrance Day, as this memorial day is officially called in our country, the President laid a wreath on the stand used in funerals. The monument is everything and nothing. It does not have a clear message and therefore everyone can interpret it in their own way. Every mature country has its own monument to an unknown hero, next to which foreign delegations express respect for the hosts and their history. We still do not have it or we have something that it is supposed to be, but it really is not. Nobody knows what and where to lay the wreath if the Žale Municipal Company does not come to its aid with its stands. After all, the new monument has finally sealed the beautiful thought of the mighty South Square between Zvezda and Knafljev prolaz. Janković’s Ljubljana remains a large village in its heart.
A country without its own army is not a country. A country that cannot send its own troops to guard its borders is also not a real country. People who insult the guards on a national holiday or attack the police during unreported demonstrations are willing to enslave anyone. This is the same as the leftists’ roar that the government wasted money on unnecessary breathing apparatus during the first wave of the epidemic, without which they would not be able to withstand the second wave. They are now silent and making up new stories to overthrow the government at a time most unsuitable for such an experiment. We are a nation of suicides trying to subdue ourselves as soon as possible. They claim that we do not need soldiers and weapons either, although the army helps people in peace and natural disasters and, among other things, provides us with a sense of security and pride in having our own country, dreamed of by generations of our ancestors.
The mayor of Ljubljana is trying to nostalgically name the city streets after the former Balkan state. We will get Belgrade, but we don’t have Plečnik’s, although he is the one who deserves the most for the image of our capital. Recently, Janković supporters voted against the initiative to rename Barjanska cesta to Plečnikova. We can expect that before that we will get Saraorška in lasting memory of the immortal mayor. That is why we erected a monument to the bearded “father of the nation” for taxpayers’ money, which he did not deserve. Our leftists have plenty of such and similar disruptive games. Has anyone ever thought that our country is much more generous in financing non-governmental organisations, especially the Legal Information Center, whose only task known to me is the smuggling of illegal migrants to Slovenia, rather than all of our architectural heritage? The Institute for the Protection of Cultural Heritage often operates even in violation of its basic principles. Let us remember the recent demolition of the monument-protected building in Dutovlje, the removal of Plečnik’s chapel in Maribor or the issuance of consents for the destruction of the Bežigrad stadium in favour of a private investor, which Minister Simoniti has now abolished, and many other similar cases. Corruption is slowly penetrating silently into every pore of a nation’s life. The fight against it is declared by the left-wing media to be the worst form of dictatorship.
Damjan Prelovšek is a Slovenian art historian, an expert on the architect Jože Plečnik. He was the Slovenian ambassador in Prague.