Place of Suffering and Memory

In Slovenia, the painful division and fighting between the Slovenians who had joined the resistance and those who collaborated with the occupying forces during World War II became a trauma for the entire nation, still persisting today after 75 years.

Photo: Jurij Kobe

Photo: Jurij Kobe

Despite the formal reconciliation, wounds are still being reopened on both sides, as if the nation were incapable of moving beyond these events, and above all forgiving. The suffering inflicted on the outskirts of Ljubljana during World War II was happening just far enough from the city centre to be out of sight, and thus out of mind, for its inhabitants. There were very few who knew, or still know today, what was happening in Sveti Urh during World War II. When we approach, it seems to be a beautiful, idyllic place with a church on the clearing and a park in the middle of the forest where a monument is erected. An almost perfect image of the Slovenian countryside. It is only with a closer look and upon reading the facts that this idyllic image transforms into a completely different understanding of history and space. The space becomes heavy with pain and suffering, and receives a completely different connotation with this new awareness.

Photo: Jurij Kobe

Photo: Jurij Kobe

During World War II, Sveti Urh served as a Home Guard outpost in which Partisans, members and supporters of the Liberation Front were tortured, terrorised most cruelly, and eventually (mostly) killed. The Home Guard justified its actions as retaliation for the acts committed against them by the Partisans, but we can also understand them as the cruel actions of individuals who were indoctrinated to the extent of being ready to commit such horrendous crimes. The data are not unanimous, but they do reveal that between 1943 and 1945 at least 123 people were killed in Sveti Urh, and perhaps up to 178, according to some sources.

Photo: Jurij Kobe

Photo: Jurij Kobe

The complete article is published in Autumn 2020 issue of Piranesi No. 42-43/Vol. 28.

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Project Data

Architecture, exhibition layout and design: ATELIERarhitekti (Jurij Kobe, Maja Kovačič)
Sculptures: Zdenko Kalin, Karel Putrih
Exhibition concept and selection of material: Blaž Vurnik
Implementation
Steel and renovation of the walls: Roman, d.o.o.
Electrical systems: Javna razsvetljava, d.o.o.
Concept: 2019
Implemented: 2020