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100th Anniversary of a Great Patriotic Act

Metod Berlec Photo: Demokracija

Last week, one hundred years have passed since General Rudolf Maister and his units in Maribor, in the early morning hours of 23 November 1918, disarmed the Green Guard (established by the Maribor authority, in favor of the preservation of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, TN).

Thereby, finally winning Maribor and the Lower Styria for the then State of the Slovenes, Croats and Serbs (SHS), as well as for today’s Republic Slovenia. Prior to that, as early as December 1st, Maister resisted the higher ranking, senior Austrian officers at the Maribor barracks in Melje when they declared the annexation of Maribor to German Austria. Maister said: “I do not recognize this. I proclaim Maribor as the possession of the State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs and I take over, on behalf of my government, the military command over the city and over all of Lower Styria”.

The historian and warrior for the northern border, Lojze Ude, wrote that Maister’s statement had a strong effect on the gathered officers, who were at the same time completely confused, which was confirmed by the expressions on their faces. Maister added firmly: “Anyone who opposes my commands in the area under my rule, will stand before my war tribunal”. Several senior officers, attending the meeting, yielded immediately and gave statements of recognition to Maister as Chief of Staff in Maribor.

This was a great victory, according to Ude, which could only be explained by the fact that all these officers were under the impression of a general military defeat. Maister’s performance was so dignified and determined that they could yield without feeling particularly ashamed. It is clear that Maister took a great deal of risk, since the State of SHS was proclaimed only a few days earlier, that is, on 29 October 1918. However, at the time Maister himself disposed only of small and poorly organized Slovenian units. However, with decisive action and mobilization in the following days, Maister created a genuine Slovenian army, which on November 4th counted as many as 4,000 men. They freed the Slovene national territory in Styria, practically along the national border.

If the People’s Government in Ljubljana would have given him complete freedom back then, he could have mobilized his units in Carinthia in time, as he also intended to free Klagenfurt. However, he did not get the “green light” to proceed…

In 2005, the first Janša government enacted a state holiday on November 23rd, in memory of the heroic conduct of Rudolf Maister.

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