By: Peter Truden
“The radical policy of murders was dictated by Edvard Kardelj, along with Zdenka Kidrič,” said historian Dr Jože Možina at a round table on Remembrance Day of All Victims of Communism, who showed those present the correspondence of the two persons mentioned above, in which the instructions on the killing of the Slovenian civil population are very clear. “By the end of 1941, the communist revolutionaries had killed about a hundred local people. Parallel to the war of foreign forces, a civil war also broke out. The division in our nation happened right when unification against the occupier should have been the most important,” said Dr Tamara Griesser Pečar.
The Government of the Republic of Slovenia recently announced that the 17th of May will now be the National Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Communist Violence. In light of this decision, a round table was held in the Knight’s Hall of the Museum of Contemporary History of Slovenia, where the guests were Dr Jože Možina, Dr Tamara Griessed Pečar, and Dr Jože Dežman.
On the 17th of May 1942, the first mass communist massacre of Slovenian civilians took place in our country, when partisans killed 53 people, mostly members of the Slovenian Roma community, in the Iška gorge, south of Ljubljana. This mass war crime is the first in a series of crimes in which the communist partisan movement committed serious war crimes and crimes against humanity against large groups of Slovenian civilians, who were later also prisoners of war. These crimes reached their peak after the end of World War II, in the spring of 1945, when more than 15,000 people were murdered in a few weeks, which represented one percent of the then-population of Slovenia.
Proceeding from the civilisation norm that the perpetrators of violence and evil acts be measured by the same criteria and following the efforts to prevent the most tragic events in our history from being repeated, the Government of the Republic of Slovenia has declared the 17th of May as the National Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Communist Violence.
The infamous ordinance caused was the start of terrorising of Slovenians
The first speaker at the round table was Dr Tamara Griesser Pečar, who said in the introduction that Edvard Kardelj had already written in 1940 that the Communists would engage in armed conflict only if it was in the interest of the revolution, which, in the end, proved to be true. “All of the anti-communists were to be destroyed later,” Griesser Pečar added, who later also presented some of the decisions of the National Liberation Front, which led to the most notorious decree. Namely, that was the protective decree that had long-term consequences, as it introduced a strict revolutionary system and was the foundation of the revolutionary judiciary. “For the communists, this decree was the basis for terrorising the state. With this decree, the communists also wanted to legitimise the killing of Slovenians. The Protection Ordinance also provided for special secret courts, where the accused were not given the opportunity to defend themselves and could not appeal the charges. It was not even known to whom, when and where the verdict would be handed down. The names of the victims were condemned by the party,” Griesser Pečar said, adding that lawyers said the Protection Ordinance was issued in violation of the international law, as people were sentenced to death for all kinds of actions, without good reason.
In the conclusion of her speech, Tamara Grisser Pečar said that the liquidations were carried out by the Security and Intelligence Service (Varnostno obveščevalna služba – VOS), which was founded in August of 1941, and that in the autumn of 1941, in addition to the occupation, a communist revolution also rose. “By the end of 1941, the communist revolutionaries had killed about a hundred local people. Parallel to the war of foreign forces, a civil war also broke out. The division in our nation happened right when unification against the occupier should have been the most important.”
The policy of murders was dictated by Kardelj and Zdenka Kidrič
Then the discussion was continued by Dr Jože Možina, who said that the murder of politicians was radically dictated by Edvard Karelj, along with Zdenka Kidrič, and also showed their correspondence, in which the instructions on killing Slovenian civilians are very clear. “The Security and Intelligence Service killed people who had nothing to do with a revolt against the partisans. Human life is not only valuable today, but it was also valuable then. The culmination of the communist initial intimidation was the genocide of the Roma people, which, however, has practically been forgotten by now. This day, the culmination of all of this madness, the 17th of May 1942, has now become a day of remembrance of all victims of the communist regime,” said Dr Možina, explaining why it was the 17th of May that became the National Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Communist Violence. He also reminded all those present: “Such a crime had not been committed by any occupier until then, but by a small number of communist guerrillas. Part of the Roma families was captured by the communists before the 17th of May 1942 and killed at that time. But what happened on the 17th of May is exceptionally cruel. This pogrom against the Roma people has not yet been fully historically processed. The remains of those killed are still awaiting burial, as the Ljubljana Mayor, Zoran Janković, is refusing to bury them.”
In conclusion, Dr Jože Možina presented some graphs that illustrate the dynamics of the victims in the Ljubljana region: “In the first months of the occupation, nothing like this happened, and there were no victims. The number of victims then started to increase due to the communist guerrilla war against the Slovenian population.” Dr Možina also added that he does not know of anyone who had been punished for communist crimes against the Slovenian nation. On the contrary, we could even say that some people were rewarded.
Dr Jože Dežman was the last to greet those present via a short video address. He explained why the 17th of May was chosen to mark the National Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Communist Violence and added that Slovenia must set up an evidence treasury of communist crimes and intervene in the social sphere through dialogue in order to evaluate past violations so that we can be able to evaluate past human right violations and safeguard human rights in the future.