Battle of Dražgoše
|Battle of Dražgoše
|Part of World War II|
Village of Dražgoše under Jelovica Plateau
|Slovene Partisans||Nazi Germany|
|Commanders and leaders|
|Jože Gregorčič||Willi Hertlein|
|200 fighters||4000 policemen and soldiers|
|Casualties and losses|
The Battle of Dražgoše (Slovene: dražgoška bitka) was a Second World War battle between the Slovene Partisans and Nazi Germany armed forces, which took place between January 9 and January 11, 1942, in the village of Dražgoše (nowadays Slovenia). This battle was the first direct confrontation between the two. It ended with brutal reprisals of German forces against the villagers and the destruction of the village.
Fighting (both numerically and equipment-wise) vastly superior Germans the Partisan Cankar Battalion (numbering 240 combatants) suffered eight casualties throughout the entire battle. German forces suffered 26 casualties according to German documents. After three days of fighting, the Partisans were forced to leave the village. After the battle, the Partisans were pursued and killed by the Germans.
More recent publications have cast the events in a different light, stating that the Partisans selected Dražgoše as scene to challenge the German forces. The villagers asked the Partisans forces to leave the village, but they refused; then, when the German forces attacked, the Partisans fled. According to Corsellis and Ferrar, the Partisans believed that uprisings such as the one at Dražgoše and the resulting reprisals turned the population against the Germans. The Catholic populace considered that the Partisans staged such uprisings in or near Catholic villages deliberately so that Catholics would be targeted by reprisals.
German troops executed 17 male civilians immediately upon having secured a portion of the village. During the evening of the following day, a further 18 male residents who had previously escaped, only to be apprehended as they returned were executed, houses were looted and the village was set on fire. When the fires died down, the Germans then demolished the entire village. The remaining villagers were then rounded up and sent to concentration camps. After the war, the village was entirely rebuilt.
Two days after this engagement, German troops attacked two partisan platoons on the Mošnje Pasture (Mošenjska planina). During the 13-hour engagement, some 12 Partisans were killed and 5 were wounded.
The Battle of Dražgoše was lauded as a heroic act of defiance during the Communist era. It has been as well highly praised after Slovenia declared democracy and independence. Danilo Türk, the president of Slovenia, described the Battle of Dražgoše as the "biggest moral victory" of the Slovene nation and as the "victory of responsibility for the future of one's own nation" in 2008. He stated that it was a foundation for Slovenia as an independent country.
On the other hand, due to the sources that narrate a story about how the Partisans cynically used the village, the political analyst Boštjan M. Turk characterised the Battle of Dražgoše as a great suffering of the Slovenian nation and a disgrace for the Partisan movement. According to Turk, "Dražgoše represents a major defeat of the will and spirit of the resistance against the Nazis because innocent people paid for the Partisan hoax with their lives." He later added that Dražgoše was not a failure from the Communist point of view because it raised fear among people and made the execution of the revolution and the conquest of power much easier.
- Premk, Martin (2012). Poljanska vstaja in boj proti okupatorju v Sloveniji leta 1941 [The Poljane Uprising and the Fight Against Occupying Forces in Slovenia in 1941] (in Slovenian). Modrijan Publishing House. pp. 264–266. ISBN 978-961-241-604-1.
- Corsellis & Ferrar 2005, p. 33.
- Jan, Ivan. 1961. Dražgoše. Ljubljana: Borec, pp. 52, 56.
- Kulturna skupnost Slovenije. Nova revija 2000 (221–224), Ljubljana: Cankarjeva založba, p. 68.
- "Resnica o Dražgošah: Partizani so stisnili rep med noge" (The Truth about Dražgoše: The Partisans Ran Away with Their Tails between Their Legs) (Slovene)
- "66. obletnica Dražgoške bitke - slavnostni govor predsednika Republike Slovenije dr. Danila Türka" [66th Anniversary of the Battle of Dražgoše: Ceremonial Speech by the President of the Republic of Slovenia, Dr. Danilo Türk] (in Slovenian). Dražgoše: Office of the President of the Republic of Slovenia. 13 January 2008.
- "Resnica o Dražgošah skozi oči domačina" (The Truth about Dražgoše as Seen by a Local) (Slovene)
- "Turk: Drnovšek je vedel, da Janša ni kriv" [Turk: Drnovšek Knew That Janša Was Not Guilty]. Demokracija.si (in Slovenian). 13 March 2011.
- M. Stanovnik, Boštjan (8 January 2012). "Boštjan M. Turk: Stanovnik ali kako smo hlapčevali laži" [Boštjan M. Turk: Stanovnik or How We Were Slaves of the Lie]. Reporter (in Slovenian).
- Media related to Battle of Dražgoše at Wikimedia Commons