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He Never Talked About It

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By Joe Novak

My dad was a “Village Guard; domobranci” during WWII in his beloved Slovenia. He was arrested and sent to an Italian Concentration camp on the Island of Rab; now part of Croatia. He never spoke about his time in captivity but my research shows that it was as horrific a place as Auschwitz or Treblinka. Run by Mario Roatta known as “the Black Beast” a Second Italian Army general who hated anyone from Slovenia and Croatia.https://real-life-villains.fandom.com/wiki/Mario_Roatta

I remember my dad as a mild mannered God fearing family man who liked to joke and smile. He spoke little of the war and when I pressed him about his time during the war he told me about gathering his family and fleeing to Austria to escape the “Slovenian Partisans” who had sided with the Nazi’s. https://archives.frontpagemag.com/fpm/milan-zajec-survivor-communist-horrors-slovenia-mary-grabar/ 

This group’s leader was Tito, who eventually ruled Slovenia for 50 years after the war. He was determined to eliminate all Domobraci freedom fighters and about 29,000 were killed by his “Partisans”! For 50 years after the war, Partisans were portrayed as home defenders in propaganda put out by Tito’s communists in Slovenia, masking the truth about their Nazi association.

After Tito’s death, Slovenia gained independence and more than 200 graves of “Domobranci” along with other civilians were discovered. Many of these men were murdered because the British military forced them back from Austria to face a Partisan firing squad. My dad and my family narrowly escape this fate! When crossing the border into Austria, he was confronted by a British soldier who instructed him to return to Slovenia along with all the people who accompanied our family. My dad was armed and ready to take this soldiers life but instead met with his group where they prayed for this soldier’s life. Upon returning to the soldier, he was told he could proceed into Austria; an example of the power of prayer!  

I have just recently started an in depth research project on Slovenia during the war. I am sorry I did not start this 20 years ago when I would have had access to men who lived this; unfortunately many have passed and I may not find anyone with firsthand knowledge.

In future articles I will write about the brave men that gave their lives fighting the Slovenian communist, the Nazi’s and Italians. Some of the men who lived this have written their stories and I am anxious to read their heart breaking accounts!

Copyright © Joe Novak 6/3/20

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