“Slovenians are part of Central Europe. Because the revolution has crippled us, the path to respect and equality for all is very challenging, but we must work for it. Each alone and all together…”

  • Written by  Metod Berlec
  • Comments:DISQUS_COMMENTS
Dr. Janez Juhant (Photo: Polona Avanzo) Dr. Janez Juhant (Photo: Polona Avanzo)

We talked about the post-war extrajudicial killings 75 years ago and the 30th anniversary of the first memorial ceremony in “Kočevski Rog”, with the theologian, philosopher and president of the Association “Združeni ob Lipi sprave”, Dr. Janez Juhant. With him, we touched on the Slovenian media scene and current socio-political events.

DEMOKRACIJA:

Mr. Juhant, the 30th traditional ceremony, in memory of the brutally murdered members of the Slovenian National Army, who were murdered there by the Communists 75 years ago, took place in “Kočevski Rog” on Saturday (we talked on Friday, 12th June 2020). The anniversary memorial mass for the victims of revolutionary violence was prepared this time at the “Roški” abyss, below “Macesnova gorica”. Research conducted in recent year’s states, that the largest cemetery in “Rog” for killed home guards (“domobranci”) is the abyss below “Macesnova gorica” and not the abyss below “Kren”, as previously was predicted. How do you comment on that? It is obvious, then, that the first reconciliation ceremony in 1990 and all subsequent ones, were practically in the wrong place.

JUHANT:

Not quite, because there people were also extra-judicially killed, among them were also Slovenes and St. mass was for all the killed, but these were not mainly home guards, but members of the armies of neighbouring nations. Apparently, those who knew this, were misleading us and still do not say - although they know (Zdenko Roter, Milan Kučan,...) where are the archives and data about the killed, missing and even where the corpses of national leaders, forcibly exhumed in 1946, are: Ehrlich, Natlačen and many more. Bishop Vovk preached at the desecration of these graves: “Only sometimes in the past did wild hyenas invaded the cemetery and dig up and desecrate the graves.” There are also other nationally important matters that could here be clarified. One day, everything will come to light, but now it would mean that they are thinking seriously about democracy, that is, the division of power and reconciliation between us.

DEMOKRACIJA:

Well, if we go back to the time of the Second World War and to the time when the Security Intelligence Service (VOS) of the Communist Party of Slovenia began to ravage Slovenia in the autumn of the year 1941, when the communist revolution began. Where did the communists get such hatred for their Slovenian compatriots?

JUHANT:

Hate was not the main (and it is similar today), but it was a mean of forcible seizure of power and plunder of property. However, the long-standing sowing of hate, divisions, deception and murdering and other anti-human patterns has settled in the souls of individuals and the nation, that this is now a major national problem. But not so much with the Democrats or the relatives of the slain, as with the Communist heirs, who raised them to live at someone else’s expense and now their privileges are being revoked. That is why I wrote: “I ask you, political left-wing fellow citizens, where your dignity, shame and conscience are.” This is of particular concern to young people, as the media and education are co-creating the alleged, but not the real culprits for the aggravation of the situation, which will once again as boomerang return back to all, who do so deliberately to maintain their monopolies. What image do those, who do this, that is, politically and financially manipulate with politicians and media people, give of themselves? Will they be able to look at themselves in their or their children’s mirror? Sowing hatred, lies and empty promises, without serious work, is very short-lived and devastating. These mechanisms of upside down world and life for the violent takeover of the power - hatred, lies, terror and killing - began with the violence of the “VOS”, under the leadership of the “KP” in the autumn of year 1941. Several of these people are still present in society, again to maintain control and acquired privileges, which their successors still have today. That is why even today here is the need for a division - it is perverted to be blamed by those who share it the most - through the cultivation of hatred, denigration of those committed to the nation and the state and covert theft of social property, which they accuse the government of and at the same time, they carry out street terror and intimidation. Apparently the old communist patterns are still operating in the changed conditions of a democratic state, only to preserve the privileges of some.

DEMOKRACIJA:

At the end of May, in the courtyard of the Faculty of Theology in Ljubljana, you remembered the charismatic priest Lambert Ehrlich, who was killed by the Security Intelligence Service (VOS) on 26 May 1942 on “Streliška” street in Ljubljana. Although he was a great patriot as a Carinthian Slovene, he was undoubtedly very disturbing for the leadership of the Communist Party… Why?

JUHANT:

True patriots then and today are (have been) disturbing for left-wing ascendants, as they threaten their undemocratic march to power. Ehrlich and others advocated for a free and democratic Slovenia, while the Communists advocated for a world union of Soviet republics. Ehrlich pointed this out as early as in year 1923 in the treatise Russian Bolshevism. He expertly perceived the intensified activities of the Communists at the University of Ljubljana in the 1930s as an attempt to seize power in Slovenia with lie, deception and terror. The extremely state of war offered them this opportunity to take advantage of the nation's plight and increase it with their terror and deception of democratic compatriots, fallen falcons and Christian Socialists and others forcibly involved in this venture, under the pretext of fighting for freedom. Most of the partisans did, but the Communists, in the “OF” and among the nation, liquidated all those (even within their partisan ranks) whom they assumed, were on their way to the power. Ehrlich knew this and made it clear in written to all of them and the Italians, that they were both destroying the Slovenian nation.

DEMOKRACIJA:

That is to say, that people were literally forced to take up arms and defend themselves against communist violence, about which Dr. Možina writes in detail in his book “Slovenski razkol”…

 JUHANT:

Immediately upon his return to Ljubljana in year 1941, Ehrlich called on the Slovene democratic leaders for underground resistance, but was unsuccessful. After the German attack on the USSR, the Communists began their resistance, when they transformed the Anti-Imperialist Front (against the “bourgeois” imperialists) into the Liberation Front “OF” against Hitler, when he attacked Stalin. Thus, they also established the Security Intelligence Service “VOS”, which had the task of excluding (even with assassinations) all Democrats for resistance outside the “KP”. But during the liquidations, people realized that the Liberation Front, under the violent leadership of the “KP”, was carrying out a revolution. The killing in year 1942 forced them into self-defence. We have testimonies about this, published for 30 years by “Zaveza”, the magazine of “Nova slovenska zaveza”, audio and TV recordings of the witnesses of Radio “Ognjišče” and RTV SLO of  Dr. Možina, which he used and professionally deepened in his successful and resounding book. About this we also have other works. At “TEOF”, we published them at home and abroad, as part of a research program. The Study Centre for National Reconciliation is also working on this, which has published researches by colleagues, on the topic of occupation and revolution. These include the works of Dr. Griesser-Pečar's “Das Zerrisene Volk” (Divided Nation), the works of Dr. Milko Mikula and more and more testimonies and analyses, of many other individuals, who speak about the revolution in Slovenia.

In the memorandum to the Italians, entitled “Gravimina” (Accusations), Ehrlich decisively told the Italians and the Communists, that they both wanted to destroy the Slovenian nation, sometimes even in mutual cooperation. Already the Italian colonel told the bearers of the memorandum, that they and the writer should be shot immediately, which the “VOS”, under Kardelj's leadership, carried out shortly afterwards over Mr. Ehrlich.

DEMOKRACIJA:

“Nova obzorja” recently published a reprint of the book by the lawyer, publicist and propagandist Mr. Lojze Ilija “Huda Pravda”, originally published in Buenos Aires, Argentina in year 1971. As literary critic Mr. Tine Debeljak wrote at the time of its publication, the author wants to show the basics and issues of the Home Guard, their ideological foundations and goals. He wonders if this is a struggle of Christianity against godless communism and the dilemmas, caused by the forced cooperation with the occupier. How do you see the role of home guards “Domobranci” at that time?

 JUHANT:

Lojze Ilija was also a guard, a member of Ehrlich's students, who were educated by the professor in the Slovene “national-Višar” consciousness and warned them of the dangers of communism. During the war, most of these students were actively involved in the fight against communist domination and more than half of them were killed during and after the war - Viktor Rojic was shot dead along with the Ehrlich on May 26, 1942, because he was, from a student dormitory in street “Streliška” on TEOF, instead of Ciril Žebot, accidentally accompanied the professor. We have enough documents - including the archives of Ehrlich's guards - about the pre-war and inter-war pressure of the communists at the university and the inter-war massacre of around 1.000 Slovenes in year 1942 alone. Therefore, people automatically began to defend themselves. After the capitulation of Italy in the autumn of year 1943, after the fall of “Turjak”, the “Kočevje” massacres of village guards and Chetnik units in “Kočevje” and “Grčarice”, further strengthened democratic Slovenes in the belief, that it was not about liberation, but about the complete removal of communist opponents and the revolutionary takeover of Slovenia.

DEMOKRACIJA:

For the Slovene nation, it was undoubtedly the most tragic period, in all of Slovene history, at the end of May and the beginning of June year 1945, when the Communists massacred Slovenes and completely destroyed members of the Slovene National Army. How is it possible, that something like this could have happened at all? How do you view on their tragic fate?

 JUHANT:

This tragedy and the genocide of the nation cannot be grasped at all, just as any other genocide across Europe cannot be grasped. It is necessary, however, to reflect on this and be aware, that the tragedy is more or less turbulent in the hearts and hearts and in the whole nation and cries out for salvation: it is therefore necessary to acknowledge this terrible injustice by the perpetrators. Today, on their behalf and on behalf of their successors, the state has a duty to do so and to prevent the recurrence of such crimes, by consistently respecting democratic principles.

DEMOKRACIJA:

If we return to this year's ceremony in “Kočevski Rog”, let’s we first touch on the sermon of the Archbishop of Ljubljana, Metropolitan Stanislav Zore, who said, among other things: “In addition to all the questions, that arise in this place of evil and faith, there is also a question that is vital to us. How will we live with these events and from these events, which permeated this earth 75 years ago? What answers will the curse and prayer, that resounded among the centuries-old trees, in those dark May days, awaken in us?”

 JUHANT:

The curse of the executioners must be transformed into the blessing and coexistence of all and into constant prayer after forgiveness, by acknowledging this terrible injustice, by the successors or the state. Evil cannot be eliminated by a new evil and by hatred. Those who do this (planned?) today, should know this. Whether one knows how to pray or not, the constitution and the human face encourage respect and a heart culture and not the violence against others. And finally, each of us expects this from the other, as the golden rule teaches us: What you do not want others to do to you, do not do to them, or what you want others to do to you, you also do to them!

DEMOKRACIJA:

Both, the President of the Republic Borut Pahor and the Prime Minister Janez Janša, spoke at the memorial ceremony. They emphasized the importance of unity, in the period of independence, as a step on the path to national reconciliation. How do you rate their speeches?

JUHANT:

Thank God they both stemmed from the plight of the people of that time, who were involved in the struggle for freedom on different sides and both also highlighted the tragedy of the murders and the need for the reconciliation, so that something like this would never happen between us again.

 DEMOKRACIJA:

Both presidents laid a wreath in “Kočevski Rog” and “Smrečje” near “Turjak”, where there is a monument to the victims of the National Liberation War. How do you see their action?

 JUHANT:

Our ancestors, who died for the nation and the homeland, are buried in both places. Everyone should be remembered equally and decent graves should be provided to everyone. Not only to these ancestors of ours, but to all the people, we are obliged to give a peaceful rest. And if we did this to foreigners (occupiers) who have graves in “Žale”, we owe it all the more to our compatriots by blood!

DEMOKRACIJA:

At the end of his speech in “Kočevski Rog”, Janša added: “We will be able, albeit late, to return the name and memory also to all the unburied. To all our dead.” With the current division, will we really ever succeed?

JUHANT:

This remains our hope, but at the same time our commitment, the commitment of the successor state, of the former totalitarian Slovenia (Yugoslavia). We have opted for democracy and the rule of law and it is our commitment to fulfil that. It is our duty to all the dead, the fallen, the slain and the silenced. Repressed memory is a burdensome memory and a man, as an intelligent being, must recall it into consciousness. The whole nation must do the same and the rule of law must enforce all the conditions for this and perform all the duties that make this possible. I believe this will happen, despite all the difficulties. This is a matter of our survival, responsibility and paving hope for future generations.

DEMOKRACIJA:

Let us also touch on current political events in Slovenia. Soon there will be a hundred days of “Janša's” government, which did not have an easy job. How do you rate their work?

JUHANT:

As a signatory of support for this government, I am understandably satisfied with their work, similar as many reasonable Slovenes are. I believe that such a decent and responsible government is a blessing to all of us in these difficult circumstances. I believe that the sacrifices of our ancestors, Ehrlich and other martyrs, made it possible for us to breathe in this corona crisis. Whatever anyone thinks, life is not just in our hands, but we have deeper, eternal roots. Christian tradition tells us, that God, not we humans, guides the destiny of nations and individuals. This path is often difficult to accept. A limited and imperfect man cannot explain many things, especially not the terrible outbursts of evil - especially of past genocides - but also the present stupid and sometimes quite vile and shameless actions of some people. As Ehrlich wrote in his spiritual exercises, this is why discouragement sometimes strikes us.

Mother Teresa of Calcutta, in the face of the misery of the poor, addressed an accusation to God, crying out to a God, who is not present in these unfortunate circumstances. But Ely Wiesel wrote that Christ hangs on a gallows, where the Nazis hanged an innocent boy. Faithful, in spite of all discouragement and the power of evil, we believe in good, in the God, as the source of all good. I also explain the world to myself in this faith. Concrete people remain imperfect, deficient, but if we fulfil our mission to the best of our ability, that is our hope. I am grateful to all the political party leaders, for choosing to act in this difficult situation, for the good of the nation and to persevere despite constant attacks and accusations. This government will go down in history as a government of national interest and the resigned opposition as an incompetent, disruptive and selfish group that pursues the interests of its supporters, at the expenses of depleting and destroying the country and all of us. So they also saw their own branch on which they are sitting. Will not those of us, who are aware of this and especially those who have worked hard and with their personal sacrifice - doctors, social and other civil protection workers, organizers and volunteers - successfully tackle the crisis and say a resounding NO to this!

DEMOKRACIJA:

One of the first allegations made to this government was, that it allegedly illegally procured medical and other equipment. Do you find this allegation justified? As a program councillor of RTV Slovenia, you recently drew attention to the manipulative reporting of TV Slovenia in this regard…

 JUHANT:

All these media and political party pogroms show only the hatred towards the leader of the SMC Mr. Počivalšek, Mrs. Pivec, Mr. Tonin and President Janša and colleagues, who agreed on this successful coalition for the good of the nation. These political - mostly skilfully staged media attacks, e.g. Target “Tarča” on RTV SLO and other informative shows also on commercial networks, laymen with the naked eye and also experts have come to know as ducking, bias, often even as a lie or misleading the public. The first interpellation only confirmed this. It is not in vain that Mr. Han of the SD said that that was enough.

DEMOKRACIJA:

At the same time, you also rely on the unbalanced reporting of RTV Slovenia. Undoubtedly, from the state of the institution, which we pay to all Slovenian taxpayers, we narrate professionally, objectively and a worldview balanced reporting.

 JUHANT:

I am committed to this as a councillor. National Radio in the morning thoughts still does not play appropriate music and reports of holly masses are not on the First program to be accessible to all listeners. At the time of the new coronavirus, holly masses ware transmitted on the 2nd program of RTV SLO. As for reporting during the government's operation is concerned, I drew a public attention to the unprofessionalism and disrespect for the authority of the Prime Minister, who should be given the opportunity by the national RTV to present the views of the government and address the nation. Unfortunately, it happens that they do not even respect the (institute) President of the State or the Presidents of the National Assembly or neither the National Council. The basic obligations of the National House are, to convey (understandably with reasoned criticism) the messages of the governing bodies of the state.

However, as far as the organized campaign against the government or individual ministers is concerned, many things were rude, irresponsible and below the level of professionalism of reporting. Government messages are silenced, not to mention the success and praise of the government, the measures are problematized without good reason, and what is already on the verge of dignity, give members of the government a negative image with false, tailored and distorted information, in times of crisis. In no country is it possible for a successful and reasonable people to undermine the objective good functioning of the government, by undermining the national media and, with the help of the opposition, overthrowing a government that has majority public support and, impartially, works well and also managed to transport us across the first COVID-19 onslaught. It is also biased that the hate speech of the opposition and its destructive maneuvers are glorified, supported by “cyclists”, who, in the eyes of smart people, work against the welfare of the state. Here is the word of Ernest Petrič, who said: “You should be ashamed!” What will future generations say about these hostile, unprofessional and nationally harmful slips, will anyone then be ashamed?

DEMOKRACIJA:

But how do you look at the demands for the resignation of the government and Friday's cycling protests, where you can even hear calls for the assassination of the Prime Minister and see many posters with the words “Death to Janissary (Janšizem)! Freedom to all!” Undoubtedly this is inappropriate!

JUHANT:

The protests would be understandable, if they had realistic demands. The language of those, whom the government has allowed to survive, however, is only: we are not satisfied. However, as far as hate speech is concerned, the relevant authorities (prosecution and other law enforcement authorities) should take action. That is unacceptable.

DEMOKRACIJA:

In še za konec. Očitno je, da po treh desetletjih demokracije od prvih demokratičnih volitev spomladi 1990 v naši družbi še vedno prevladuje levičarski diskurz, ki neusmiljeno obračunava z drugače mislečimi. Ali verjamete, da bo sedanji vladi vendarle uspelo slovensko družbo nekoliko uravnotežiti in normalizirati?

JUHANT:

This is no leftist discourse. This would be advocating for the neglected. This, however, is a post-communist discourse for the preservation of the privileges, acquired by the heirs of the revolutionaries, through the revolution. For once, this country will have to establish a democracy without privileges for some and provide the conditions for the mutual effort of all, to agree in a critical dialogue, for the well-being of society as a whole. However, we will not achieve this by sowing hatred - which has led to past divisions, killings and the privileges of some – but, by striving to respect all, to give everyone an equal approach to society and to enforce European democratic standards. Slovenians are part of Central Europe. Because the revolution has crippled us, the path to respect and equality for all is very challenging, but we must work for it. Each of us and all together must help to do this. Thank God we have a government working in that direction. I just want as many citizens as possible to support it for their well-being and for the benefit of all future generations.

.......................

Biography

Janez Juhant was born in year 1947 in Ljubljana and comes from the parish of “Štanga” near town Litija. In year 1974 he was ordained a priest. He holds a master's degree in theology and a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Innsbruck. From year 1978 he lectured at the Faculty of Theology in Ljubljana (between 1994 and 1999 he was also the dean of this faculty), at the European Faculty of Law in Nova Gorica and at the Faculty of Postgraduate State and European Studies in Kranj. His field of activity includes: history of philosophy, philosophical anthropology, ethics, social philosophy and philosophy of religion. In year 2012, he became a full member of the European Academy of Sciences and Arts. He is the author of 12 professional books, the editor of several professional publications at home and abroad and the author of hundreds of discussions and articles. He is very active also in civil society; among other things, he is the president of the Association United at the “Lipa” of Reconciliation.

back to top