By: dr. Janez Tušek
In Saturday’s supplement of one of the Slovenian dailies, we were able to read an extensive interview with Spomenka Hribar and her husband Tine. Anton Tomažič, a member of the Demos coalition, responded to the recording on the Časnik web portal.
As Tomažič wrote, I was also not able to read the answers of both spouses to the questions asked by the journalist of the mentioned daily. For the part of this interview I read, I can write that one can hardly expect so many inaccuracies, so many empty, meaningless statements, various nebulous claims, attacks on the current Prime Minister and so much aggression from two “cultural figures”.
Really, I cannot believe that some lady who is over eighty years old and was supposedly an educator to young people is so bitter and aggressive. Can such a person contribute to the reconciliation of the nation and to reconciliation? I do not believe that. Particularly disturbing are her intolerant statements and the vocabulary we knew in the previous system, in the old country, and with independence we thought it was consciously forgotten. Unfortunately, it was not!
Were her attempts at appeasement more than thirty years ago misleading and bluffing? Probably!
How is it possible that today academically educated people still do not understand why the Home Guard was basically created? Until the Slovenes, at least in the majority, are fully aware of the situation in which the village guards were formed and the Home Guard army from them, it will be very difficult to come to reconciliation.
I ask Spomenka Hribar, Milan Kučan and other proud successors of the Communists, how would they have behaved in 1942 if they had lived with their family and several children in villages in Notranjska, Dolenjska and in the villages above Logatec? What would you do if one peaceful evening armed Slovenes (partisans) killed one or two or even three of your children for no reason? In all likelihood and it makes perfect sense to protect the remaining surviving children, your home and the rest of the family first. You probably would not join the killers of your children? These villagers with their families had no choice but to ask for the weapons of the occupier if they wanted to preserve their family, their home and their lives. When will Spomenka Hribar and many others understand this? Their behaviour was completely natural and normal in the circumstances at the time, and may be repeated in the near future if we do not clarify what was happening at the time and present it to the current generation.
It should be added that the inhabitants of the aforementioned villages at the beginning of the war supported the partisans by providing them with food, clothing, even accommodation and more. Even the pastors encouraged the parishioners to help the partisans in Sunday sermons. But the partisans were tasked by the Communists to lead a revolution, liquidate important villagers, and create chaos among the inhabitants. The beginning of the tragedy was when the partisans, without a proper explanation, started killing civilians. A striking example is the Crimean Cave, where in 1942 partisans threw the bodies of 28 people, including eight women, two children and an unborn child.
Was this a liberation struggle for Spomenka Hribar?
Today, however, we can write that cooperation with the occupier was a mistake. But this is today, not the year 1942.
The Home Guard arose more naturally, more instinctively, and more out of a need to survive than the Partisans.
The claim that the partisans contributed to Slovenia’s independence is just like claiming that the Slovenes contributed to the disintegration of the Turkish Empire centuries ago. We Slovenes were victorious over the Turks many times; we took part in other victorious wars against the Turks, but we did not make a significant contribution to the disintegration of this empire. Many partisans also spoke of an independent Slovenia, but the communists quickly silenced them. Even more, in the years before the independence the one who spoke publicly about independent Slovenia and secession from his home country was prosecuted. And that is why the claim of Spomenka Hribar is pure nonsense.
All these years we have been taught that the partisans captured most of Primorska region. Today we know that this is not true. The partisans (communists) caused so much misery in Trieste in May 1945 that this was the reason we lost Trieste. Moreover, because of the incompetence of the then Yugoslav diplomacy we also lost Gorizia at the peace conference in Paris after the war.
English Field Marshal Alexander Harold, who was in charge of English military units in and around Trieste, demanded the withdrawal of the partisans from Trieste and threatened them with military force otherwise. The partisans had to withdraw and leave Trieste to English rule. According to a correspondent from Trieste for our public radio, she even reported years ago that those fourteen days when the partisans were in Trieste were the most horrible for the inhabitants of this city in its entire history.
Today we also know that the TIGR organisation cooperated with the English secret service and that Churchill himself supposedly assured this first anti-fascist organisation in Europe that the border between Italy and Slovenia (Yugoslavia) would run according to the national principle. We also know that the Communists did not acknowledge to the TIGR any merit for their work, which probably also influenced the conduct of the English Field Marshal, Alexander Harold, to attack the partisans of Trieste.
The same was true of the Paris Peace Conference in 1946. At that time, Yugoslavia was represented by Edvard Kardelj. According to some information, his arrogant behaviour and inaction in favour of Slovenia led to the loss of Gorizia.
So what are the merits of communists and partisans during the Second World War for independent Slovenia?
There is another important issue in reconciliation itself. Would partisans have organised in Slovenia to fight the occupier if there were no communists. I claim yes. I come from Gorenjska from a partisan family. His father and his five brothers were partisans. Two of these fell as partisans. I listened to their conversations several times after the war. I could conclude from all conversations that they were fighting against the occupier and that they were not for the revolution then and not later. I still have in my ears the words of my father, who repeatedly stated that fascism and Nazism have no chance of victory. That Germany and Italy cannot conquer the whole world and the like.
So we can write with great certainty that partisans would have formed just as well if there were no communists. Without the communists who carried out the revolution, however, in all probability there would be no Home Guard.
As Tomažič writes, the right side has repeatedly offered a hand of reconciliation. The Church has also repeatedly apologised for mistakes made during World War II. Leftists, however, are unable to do so.
Prof Dr Janez Tušek was a university professor at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, University of Ljubljana, editor of the professional magazine Ventil, director of his private company, and publicist.