Lojze Bratuž

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Lojze Bratuž

Lojze Bratuž, italianized name Luigi Bertossi (17 February 1902 – 16 February 1937) was a Slovene choirmaster and composer from Gorizia, killed by the Italian Fascist squads. He is regarded to be a martyr of anti-Fascist struggle of the Slovene population in the Slovenian Littoral region during Italian rule.


Bratuž was born in a Slovene-speaking family in the town of Gorizia, then the center of the Austro-Hungarian County of Gorizia and Gradisca. He was educated in Slovene schools of the town, and chose a music career.

After the Slovenian Littoral and the adjacent regions of Inner Carniola were annexed to the Kingdom of Italy by the Treaty of Rapallo in 1920, Bratuž remained loyal to his Slovene origins and resisted the forced Italianization of the region populated by a Slovene majority. Initially, he worked as a teacher of singing and a choirmaster in the village of Šmartno in the Goriška Brda region north of Gorizia, and later in a small seminary in Gorizia. In 1929 he was first imprisoned for a short time by Fascist authorities due to his Slovenian patriotism. In 1930 he was appointed coordinator of church choirs in the Goriška region by the Archbishop of Gorizia Frančišek Borgia Sedej. He led the only choirs in Slovene language allowed by authorities in the Gorizia region (in Goriška Brda, the Vipava Valley, Soča Valley and in the upper Kras).

On December 27, 1936, a group of Fascists kidnapped Bratuž in Podgora (now a suburb of Gorizia) immediately after the mass where he conducted a choir. He was brought to a nearby building where he was brutally beaten up and forced to drink castor oil, mixed with gasoline and motor oil. He could never recover from this poisoning and died two months later in the central hospital of Gorizia. A few days before his death his supporters gathered beneath the hospital window, sang a Slovene song and then fled before authorities could arrest them. Thus Lojze Bratuž soon became a symbol of fascist persecution of Slovenes in the Julian March.

During his life, Bratuž set to music several songs and adapted them for choirs. Today a Slovene mixed choir from Gorizia and a cultural center of Slovenes in Gorizia bear his name.

He was married to the poet Ljubka Šorli. Their only child, Lojzka Bratuž is an author and activist in the organizations of the Slovene minority in Italy.

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