On Sunday, a mass for the victims of the war and post-war violence in Teharje was offered by the Celje diocese administrator, Rok Metličar, in the Teharje church. As Metličar pointed out, this year is different than the previous ones in many ways, but if we look back, we realise that after 75 years, the memories of the victims of Teharje are still very much alive in the hearts of many.
Prime Minister Janez Janša also attended the mass. The traditional mourning ceremony in the Memorial Park in Teharje was canceled this year, due to the epidemiological situation in the country.
Metličar reminded everyone that three decades have already passed since they began offering holy mass in places where man tried to disguise and hide the evil done to his own brother. “However, our wounds that were caused by wars and have never healed, are still inflaming. Wars are always started with the intention of an individual or some part of the society subjugating or destroying human lives,” he warned.
Due to the heroic suffering of the masses, the church in Slovenia is still alive and strong today
Metličar believes that part of the reason why the church of the Slovenian people is still alive and strong today, is the “heroic suffering of the masses, who lived through camps, prisons, interrogations, forced labour, and death.”
After the mass, academic painter Marcos Jerman addressed those who were gathered in Teharje, saying that 75 years ago, at a time when the world was horrified to discover the horrors of Auschwitz and other Nazi concentration camps, the Teharje concentration camp only began its criminal operating. Jerman said that the abandoned German barracks were used by the new revolutionary government as the last gathering place for those accused of treason and collaboration, who were consequently sentenced to death. “It is up to us to not forget all the people without names, who died too young, with prayer on their lips – here, and in many other places in Slovenia. Today, the archaeologists are discovering what the ideologists have been hiding for decades, but those of us who lived abroad always knew. We cannot change history. We have to get acquainted with it,” Jerman added.
Many were killed in extrajudicial killings
The captured members of the home guard, soldiers, and civilians who were stopped by the allies in Koroška, together with the fugitives from Croatia and Serbia, and then handed over to the new partisan authorities, were temporarily stationed in the area of the former German training centre in Teharje after the war.
Many were then killed without a trial, some near the camp in Bukovžvlak, or in the vicinity of Celje, and even more were taken to Huda Jama near Laško, or to the mine shafts of Hrastnik or Pečovnik.
A memorial park was opened on the site of the former camp, in 2004.