Gonars concentration camp

The Gonars concentration camp was one of the several Italian concentration camps and it was established on February 23, 1942, near Gonars, Italy.

Many internees were transferred to this camp from the other Italian concentration camp, Rab concentration camp, which served as equivalent of final solution in Mario Roatta's ethnic cleansing policy against ethnic Slovenes from the Italian-occupied Province of Ljubljana and Croats from Gorski Kotar, in accord with the racist 1920s speech by Benito Mussolini, along with other Italian war crimes committed on the Italian-occupied territories of Yugoslavia:

When dealing with such a race as Slavic - inferior and barbarian - we must not pursue the carrot, but the stick policy.... We should not be afraid of new victims.... The Italian border should run across the Brenner Pass, Monte Nevoso and the Dinaric Alps.... I would say we can easily sacrifice 500,000 barbaric Slavs for 50,000 Italians....

— Benito Mussolini, speech held in Pula, 22 February 1922[1][2][3]

The first transport of 5,343 internees (1,643 of whom were children) arrived two days after its establishment, on February 23, 1942, from the Province of Ljubljana and from the other two Italian concentration camps, the Rab camp and the camp in Monigo (near Treviso).

The camp was disbanded on September 8, 1943, immediately after the Italian armistice. Every effort was made to erase any evidence of this black spot of Italian history. The camp's buildings were destroyed, the materials were used to build a nearby kindergarten and the site was turned into a meadow.

Only in 1973 a sacrarium was created by sculptor Miodrag Živković at the town's cemetery. Remains of 453 Slovenian and Croatian victims were transferred into its two underground crypts. It is believed that at least 50 additional persons died in the camp due to starvation and torture. Apart from the sacrarium no other evidence of the camp remains and even many locals are unaware of it.

Del slovenskega spomenika
Monument for Slovenes

Slovene notable inmates


  • Alessandra Kersevan (2008): Lager italiani. Pulizia etnica e campi di concentramento fascisti per civili jugoslavi 1941-1943. Editore Nutrimenti,
  • Alessandra Kersevan (2003): Un campo di concentramento fascista. Gonars 1942-1943., Kappa Vu Edizioni, Udine.
  • Nadja Pahor Verri (1996): Oltre il filo : storia del campo di internamento di Gonars, 1941-1943, Arti Grafiche Friulane, Udine.
  • Luca Baldissara, Paolo Pezzino (2004): Crimini e memorie di guerra: violenze contro le popolazioni e politiche del ricordo, L'Ancora del Mediterraneo. ISBN 978-88-8325-135-1

Further reading

In popular culture

See also


  1. ^ Pirjevec, Jože (2008). "The Strategy of the Occupiers". Resistance, Suffering, Hope: The Slovene Partisan Movement 1941–1945 (PDF). p. 27. ISBN 978-961-6681-02-5.
  2. ^ Verginella, Marta (2011). "Antislavizmo, rassizmo di frontiera?". Aut aut (in Italian). ISBN 978-88-6576-106-9.
  3. ^ Santarelli, Enzo (1979). Scritti politici: di Benito Mussolini; Introduzione e cura di Enzo Santarelli (in Italian). p. 196.
  4. ^ Petejan, Saša (2011) Otroci in vojna: Internacija je mnogo več kot le politična dediščina, Dnevnik, Ljubljana
  5. ^ Spomini internirancev v Gonarsu, Primorski dnevnik, 2012, Trieste.

External links

Coordinates: 45°54′25.4″N 13°14′13.63″E / 45.907056°N 13.2371194°E

Alessandra Kersevan

Alessandra Kersevan (born (1950-12-18)18 December 1950 in Monfalcone) is an historian, author and editor living and working in Udine.

She researches Italian modern history, including the Italian resistance movement and Italian war crimes.

She is the editor of a group called Resistenza storica at Kappa Vu edizioni, an Italian publisher.

Her research have caused a huge hate campaign against her from the political right environment, both institutional and extra-parliamentary.

Aleš Strojnik

Aleš Strojnik (also known as Alex Strojnik, May 21, 1921 – November 6, 1995) was a Slovenian American aerodynamicist and aircraft designer specializing in low-speed drag reduction. He was also a pioneer and professor in physics and high-energy electron microscopy, and retired from teaching and research at Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona.Strojnik was born and educated in Ljubljana, Slovenia. He was imprisoned in Gonars concentration camp during World War II, along with thousands of other ethnic Slovenes by the fascist Italian occupiers of the Province of Ljubljana. After the war, Strojnik returned to academia and research. He is called by some, "the first Slovenian biomedical engineer," and was influential in cultivating a sense of quality among his students.Strojnik had some training in, and passion for aeronautical engineering. His first aircraft design, which he built in Slovenia (then part of Yugoslavia) in 1945, was called "S-1." It was a flying-wing glider. After suffering a fractured skull and broken nose in crashing the S-1, he abandoned the design.Strojnik's pursuit of quality in science landed him on the wrong side of the Slovenian academia, controlled after the war by the Yugoslav Partisans of Josip Broz Tito's post-war Communist government. Strojnik's article, "Who is a Scientist," appeared in the communist publication Nova Obsorja ("New Horizon").

That article made [Strojnik] universally resented in the Slovenian academic circles because it exposed the rotten core of the Slovenian academia. It was advisable for Strojnik to look for employment abroad...The result was a visiting appointment for Strojnik at Cornell University in electron microscopy. Later Strojnik became full professor at the Arizona State University in Tempe.

In addition to his academic career after immigrating to the United States, Strojnik continued the pursuit of his passion for aviation and aircraft design. The Strojnik S-2 self-launching sailplane, the S-4 and S-5 sport planes, and Strojnik's Laminar Aircraft three-volume book series had great impact on light aircraft design. The S-4 "Laminar Magic" set a U.S. national aviation speed record in Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) Category C-1a/0 (European microlight, under 300 kilograms (660 lb) gross weight) in 1987. Strojnik also wrote a much earlier book entitled Človek Je Dobil Krila ("Man Got His Wings") in Slovene, which was published in 1947.Strojnik had four sons and a daughter. His daughter, Marija Strojnik Scholl, took interest in optics at an early age when she was accompanying her father to work, and went on to become a prominent astrophysicist.

Alojz Gradnik

Alojz Gradnik (August 3, 1882 – July 14, 1967) was a Slovenian poet and translator.

Bogo Grafenauer

Bogo Grafenauer (16 March 1916 – 12 May 1995) was a Slovenian historian, who mostly wrote about medieval history in the Slovene Lands. Together with Milko Kos, Fran Zwitter, and Vasilij Melik, he was one of the founders of the so-called Ljubljana school of historiography.

Bojan Štih

Bojan Štih (18 February 1923 – 14 October 1986), was a Slovene literary critic, stage director, and essayist. He was one of the most influential figures in modern Slovene theatre after 1945.

Štih was born in Ljubljana, where he attended Bežigrad High School. During World War II, he collaborated with the Liberation Front of the Slovenian People. In 1942 he was arrested by the Italian Fascist authorities and sent to the Gonars concentration camp. In late August 1942 he escaped from the camp along with a group of Slovene Communist activists, among whom was also the Partisan leader Franc Ravbar and Boris Kraigher, who later who became prime minister of the Socialist Republic of Slovenia. Štih actively participated in the Slovene Partisan resistance in the Julian March.

After the end of the war in 1945, he worked as a journalist and editor. In 1957, he received a bachelor's degree in history from the University of Ljubljana. The same year, he started working as a director at the Drama Theatre in Ljubljana, where he worked together with the playwright and author Jože Javoršek. In the 1960s, he worked in the majority of theatres in Slovenia, where he introduced contemporary western trends. He was also a prolific essayist.

He died in Ljubljana in 1986 and is buried in Žale Cemetery. Štih Hall (Štihova dvorana) in Cankar Hall, the largest cultural and congress centre in Slovenia, was named after him, as was Štih Street (Štihova ulica) in the Bežigrad district of Ljubljana.

He was the uncle of Barbara Brezigar, Slovene jurist and politician and current Chief Public Prosecutor of the Republic of Slovenia.

Branka Jurca

Branka Jurca (24 May 1914 – 6 March 1999) was a Slovene writer, best known for her work for children and young adults.Jurca was born in Kopriva in the Karst region of what is now Slovenia in 1914. After the First World War the family moved to Maribor where she grew up. She worked as a teacher until the outbreak of the Second World War when she moved to Ljubljana. She participated in the Slovene Liberation Front but was arrested and sent to Gonars concentration camp and then Ravensbrück concentration camp. After the end of the war she worked as teacher for a while and then as an editor of the children's journal Ciciban. She wrote 35 stories for children, novels and collections of short stories. She died in Ljubljana in 1999.She won the Levstik Award twice, in 1960 for Okoli in okoli (Round and Round) and in 1966 for Vohljači in prepovedane skrivnosti (The Snoopers and Forbidden Secrets).She was married to the writer and playwright Ivan Potrč and their daughter Marjetica Potrč is an award-winning architect.

Davide Toffolo

Davide Toffolo (born January 17, 1965, Pordenone, Italy) is an Italian author of comics books, including graphic non-fiction works, and musician.

France Balantič

France Balantič (29 November 1921 – 24 November 1943) was a Slovene poet. His works were banned from schools and libraries during the Titoist regime in Slovenia, but since the late 1980s he has been re-evaluated as one of the foremost Slovene poets of the 20th century.

France Planina

France Planina (29 September 1901 – 14 January 1992) was a Slovene geographer and cartographer.Planina was born in Škofja Loka in 1901. He graduated from the University of Ljubljana in 1925 and taught in secondary schools in Otočac, Kranj and Ljubljana. During the Second World War he was interred in the Gonars concentration camp. After the war he continued to teach and also worked at the Natural History Museum of Slovenia. He retired in 1962. He died in Ljubljana in 1992. In 2001 a bronze bust to Planina was unveiled in Škofja Loka.In 1967 he won the Levstik Award for his book Jugoslavija (Yugoslavia).

Frane Milčinski

Frane Milčinski (pen name Ježek; 14 December 1914 – 27 February 1988) was a Slovene poet, satirist, humorist and comedian, actor, children's writer, and director. He is considered one of Slovenia's foremost 20th-century satirists and entertainers.

Ivan Bratko (publisher)

Ivan Bratko (15 February 1914 – 23 March 2001) was a Slovene writer and publisher, partisan and officer.

Bratko was born in Celje in 1914. He graduated in law from the University of Ljubljana in 1941. He was a member of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia from 1933 and published numerous articles and columns on socio-economic matters even before the Second World War. He was interred at Gonars concentration camp from where he escaped and joined the partisan. His escape from Gonars was also the inspiration for his best known book Teleskop (Telescope), for which he won the Levstik Award in 1954. From 1952 until his retirement in 1981 he worked as head of the DZS Publishing House.He died in Ljubljana in 2001.

Jakob Savinšek

Jakob Savinšek (4 February 1922 – 17 August 1961) was a Slovene sculptor, illustrator and poet.

Province of Ljubljana

The Province of Ljubljana (Italian: Provincia di Lubiana, Slovene: Ljubljanska pokrajina, German: Provinz Laibach) was the central-southern area of Slovenia. In 1941, it was annexed by Fascist Italy, and after 1943 occupied by Nazi Germany. Created on May 3, 1941, it was abolished on May 9, 1945, when the Slovene Partisans and partisans from other parts of Yugoslavia liberated it from the Nazi Operation Zone of the Adriatic Littoral. Its administrative centre was Ljubljana.

Rab concentration camp

The Rab concentration camp (Italian: Campo di concentramento per internati civili di Guerra – Arbe; Croatian: Koncentracijski logor Rab; Slovene: Koncentracijsko taborišče Rab) was one of the several Italian concentration camps and it was established during World War II, in July 1942, on the Italian-occupied island of Rab (now in Croatia).

According to historians James Walston and Carlo Spartaco Capogeco, at 18%, the annual mortality rate in the camp was higher than the average mortality rate in the Nazi concentration camp of Buchenwald (15%). According to a report by Monsignor Jože Srebrnič, Bishop of Krk on 5 August 1943 to Pope Pius XII: "witnesses, who took part in the burials, state unequivocally that the number of the dead totals at least 3500". However, other sources place the figure at around 2,000.In September 1943, after the armistice with Italy, the camp was closed, but some of the remaining Jewish internees were deported by German forces to the extermination camp at Auschwitz. Yugoslavia, Greece and Ethiopia requested the extradition of some 1,200 Italian war criminals, who, however, were never brought before an appropriate tribunal because the British government, at the beginning of the Cold War, saw in Pietro Badoglio a guarantor of an anti-communist post-war Italy.

Slovene Lands in World War II

World War II in the Slovene Lands started in April 1941 and lasted until May 1945. Slovenia was in a unique situation during World War II in Europe, only Greece shared its experience of being trisected, however, Slovenia was the only region that experienced a further step — absorption and annexation into neighboring Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and Hungary. The Slovene-settled territory was divided largely between Nazi Germany and the Kingdom of Italy, with smaller territories occupied by Hungary, and the Independent State of Croatia.

Tone Čufar

Tone Čufar (14 November 1905 – 11 August 1942) was a Slovene writer, a playwright and a poet.

Vasilij Melik

Vasilij Melik (17 January 1921 – 28 January 2009) was a Slovenian historian, who mostly worked on political history of the Slovene Lands in the 19th century.

Vitomil Zupan

Vitomil Zupan (18 January 1914 – 14 May 1987) was a post-World War II modernist Slovene writer and Gonars concentration camp survivor. Because of his detailed descriptions of sex and violence, he was dubbed the Slovene Hemingway and was compared to Henry Miller. He is best known for Menuet za kitaro (A Minuet for Guitar, 1975), describing the years he spent with the Slovene Partisans. In Titoist Yugoslavia he was sentenced to 18 years in a show trial, and upon his release in 1955 his works could only be published under his pseudonym Langus. He is considered one of the most important Slovene writers.


Čiginj (pronounced [tʃiˈɡiːn]) is a settlement south of Volče in the Municipality of Tolmin in the Littoral region of Slovenia.

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