World War II in the Slovene Lands
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World War II in the Slovene Lands started in April 1941 and lasted until May 1945. The Slovene-settled territory was divided largely between the Nazi Germany and the Kingdom of Italy, with smaller territories occupied by Hungary and the Independent State of Croatia. They all exercised cultural assimilation and tried to annex the occupied territory to their parent lands.
On 6 April 1941, Yugoslavia was invaded by the Axis Powers. At that day, part of the Slovene-settled territory was occupied by the Nazi Germany. On 11 April 1941, further parts of the territory were occupied by Italy and Hungary. The resistance of the Yugoslav army was insignificant. The Germans occupied the Upper Carniola, the Lower Styria, the northwestern part of Prekmurje and the northern part of the Lower Carniola. The Italians occupied the Inner Carniola, the majority of the Lower Carniola and Ljubljana, whereas the Hungarians occupied the major part of Prekmurje.
In 2005, Slovene authors first published information about six villages in Lower Carniola that were annexed by the Independent State of Croatia, and a Maribor-based historian first published original research about it in 2011, but it remains unclear why the villages from Drava Banovina were occupied contrary to a known German-Croatian treaty.
The Nazis started a policy of violent Germanisation. The Germans who wanted to proclaim their formal annexation to the ”German Reich“ on October 1, 1941, postponed it first because of the installation of the new ”Gauleiter“ and ”Reichsstatthalter“ of Carinthia and later on they dropped the plan for an undefinite period of time because of partisans, with which the Germans wanted to deal first. Only Meža valley became part of ”Reichsgau Carinthia“ at once. In the frame of their plan for the ethnic cleansing of Slovene territory, Slovenes were resettled or chased away to Nedić's Serbia and NDH, and more than 63,000 Slovenes were interned to Nazi concentration camps in Germany. The majority of Slovene victims of the occupation authorities were from the regions occupied by the Germans, i.e. Lower Styria, Upper Carniola, Central Sava Valley, and Slovenian Carinthia.
The Italian occupation policy in the Province of Ljubljana gave Slovenes cultural autonomy, however the Fascist system was systematically introduced. After resistance started, the violence against the Slovene civil population in the zone escalated and easily matched the German. The province was subjected to brutal repression. Alongside with summary executions, the burning of houses and villages, hostage-taking and hostage executions, the Province of Ljubljana saw the deportation of 25.000 people — which equaled 7.5% of the total population—to Italian concentration camps.
On 26 April 1941, several groups formed the Liberation Front of the Slovene Nation, which was the leading resistance force during the war. The front was initially a democratic platform. With the Dolomiti Declaration, signed in March 1943, the Communists, however, monopolized it. Its military arm were the Slovene Partisans. The Slovene Partisans retained their specific organizational structure and Slovene language as commanding language until the last months of World War II, when their language was removed as the commanding language. In March 1945, the Slovene Partisan Units were officially merged with the Yugoslav Army and thus ceased to exist as a separate formation.
At the very beginning Slovene Partisan forces were relatively small, poorly armed and without any infrastructure, but Spanish Civil War veterans amongst them had some experience with guerrilla way of fighting the enemy. The partisan activities in the Slovene Lands were initially independent of Tito's Partisans in the south. In autumn 1942, Tito attempted for the first time to control the Slovene resistance movement. The merger of the Slovene Partisans with Tito's forces happened in 1944.
In December 1943, Franja Partisan Hospital was built in difficult and rugged terrain, deep inside the German-occupied Europe, only a few hours from Austria and the central parts of the Third Reich. German military activity was frequent in the general region throughout the operation of the hospital. It saw continuous improvements until May 1945.
The Province of Ljubljana was subjected to brutal repression after the emergence of resistance and Italian occupying forces put the barbed wire fence - which is now Path of Remembrance and Comradeship - around Ljubljana in order to prevent communication between the city's underground activists in Ljubljana and the majority of partisans in the surrounding countryside. It emitted its own radio program called Kričač the location of which never became known to occupying forces and they had to confiscate the receivers' antennas from the local population in order to prevent listening to the radio of the Slovene Liberation Front.
The Province of Ljubljana saw the deportation of 25.000 people, which equaled 7.5% of the total population. The operation, one of the most drastic in the Europe, filled up many Italian concentration camps, such as Rab concentration camp, in Gonars concentration camp, Monigo (Treviso), Renicci d'Anghiari, Chiesanuova and elsewhere.
Under the commander Mario Roatta's watch the violence against the Slovene civil population easily matched the German. To suppress the mounting resistance by the Slovene Partisans, Mario Roatta adopted draconian measures of summary executions, hostage-taking, reprisals, internments into Rab and Gonars concentration camps, and the burning of houses and villages. The "3C" pamphlet, tantamount to a declaration of war on civilians, involved him in war crimes. Roatta's war crimes over civil population were not mitigated by his having saved the lives of Jews and Serbs (from the persecution of German Nazis and NDH).
End of war and aftermath 
World War II in the Slovene Lands lasted until the middle of May 1945. On 3 May, the National State of Slovenia was proclaimed as part of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. The liberation of Ljubljana, the capital city of the now independent Slovenia, was announced on 9 May 1945. The last battle was the Battle of Poljana, which took place near Prevalje on 14 and 15 May 1945, a few days after the formal surrender of the Nazi Germany.
Immediately after the war, some 12,000 members of the Slovene Home Guard were killed in the Kočevski Rog massacre, while thousands of anti-communist civilians were killed in the first year after the war. In addition, hundreds of ethnic Italians from the Julian March were killed by the Yugoslav Army and partisan forces in the Foibe massacres; some 27,000 Istrian Italians fled Slovenian Istria from Communist persecution in the so-called Istrian exodus. Members of the ethnic German minority either fled or were expelled from Slovenia.
Number of victims 
The overall number of World War II casualties in Slovenia is estimated at 97,000. The number includes about 14,000 people, who were killed or died for other war-related reasons immediately after the end of the war, and the tiny Jewish community, which was nearly annihilated in the Holocaust. In addition, tens of thousands of the Slovenes left their homeland soon after the end of the war. Most of them settled in Argentina, Canada, Australia and in the USA.
These massacres were silenced, and remained a taboo topic until the late 1970s and early 1980s, when dissident intellectuals brought it to public discussion. In addition, hundreds (some say thousands) of ethnic Italians from Istria and Trieste were killed by the Yugoslav Army and partisan forces in the Foibe massacres, while some 27,000 of them fled Slovenia from Communist persecution in the so-called Istrian exodus. The overall number of World War Two casualties in Slovenia is estimated to 89,000, while 14,000 people were killed immediately after the end of the war. The overall number of World War II casualties in Slovenia was thus of around 7.2% of the pre-war population, which is above the Yugoslav average, and among the highest percentages in Europe.
Non-extradition of the Italian war criminals 
The documents found in British archives by the British historian Effie Pedaliu and by Italian historian Davide Conti, pointed out that the memory of the existence of the Italian concentration camps and Italian war crimes has been repressed due to the Cold War. Yugoslavia, Greece and Ethiopia requested extradition of 1,200 Italian war criminals who however never saw anything like Nuremberg trial. The extradition never took place because the western allies' governments saw in Pietro Badoglio's government a guarantee of an anti-communist post-war Italy.
- Video of the contribution by historian Damijan Guštin, delivered at the Repression during World War II and in the post-war period in Slovenia and in the neighbouring countries international conference, held at the Institute of Contemporary History, Ljubljana, 2012.
See also 
- Invasion of Yugoslavia
- Yugoslav Front
- Province of Ljubljana
- Rab concentration camp
- Gonars concentration camp
- Italian war crimes
- Foibe killings
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- The figure includes the Carinthian Slovene victims. www.ds-rs.si/dokumenti/publikacije/Zbornik_05-1.pdf</ref>
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