Paulina F. Dolinar in Mira Kosem

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The Adamič family lived at Sodražica near Ribnica. Their father Tone, a roadman by profession and mother Pavla, as a housewife, took care of a small farm. They had four children, namely Pavla, Rada, Mira and Tone. Their life was heavily interrupted by the World War II. Already in 1942, during the bombing, the Italians burned down their house, so they went to live with mother’s parents at Jelovec, and from there to the house of the mother’s brother Ivan. At the transition between 1941/42 Partisans under the command of Stane Semič-Daki were formed at the nearby Travna gora. When the Italians began to retreat, the Partisans fired some shots at them, and they retaliated with the arson of the village, and they took the men and boys to the internment to Rab and other camps. Due to the knowledge of Italian, his father repeatedly helped and saved some hostages. This was strongly condemned by the Partisans and, as a result, he was on the black list as the occupying forces assistant and collaborator.

In December 1943, the father went to Ljubljana to get a job. He worked at the railway, in March 1944 he was mobilised by the Primorska National Guard and taken to Trieste for training. Because of age and illness he was never sent to military actions. In June 1944, he was released and went to Ribnica, where he stayed until 4 May 1945. Then, together with the civilians, he withdrew to Austria, thinking he was leaving for a short time, but he went forever. In the Spittal camp he was building barracks, worked as a gardener and a shoemaker. On 18 May 1949, he arrived to America as a refugee. At first he settled with his brother, then with the Čampa couple and was employed in the factory where he remained until his retirement.

The mother and children who stayed in the homeland cultivated two farms and lived in the house of uncle Ivan, who returned in 1947 from a camp in Carinthia. They helped him in the stable, and in the winter they knitted. Life in poverty and without their father strengthened them in a struggle for survival. Even though they were embarrassed, deprived of food and other necessities, second-rate and stamped as collaborators of the occupying force, they struggled to maintain their dignity. They experienced many humiliations and chicanes, but did not yield under the pressure of the communist system. After a long ten years of separated life, they finally managed to meet their father. They departed from Sodražica on 19 September 1955 by train to Genoa, and then by the Andrea Doria ship. On 30 September 1955, they arrived to America. Even though they entered a new world where a lot of adaptation and discovery of a different environment was needed, they were happy because they were again together with their father.

A new pain occurred with the nationalization of their homestead in the homeland while they were on their way to America. The father sent numerous complaints to the offices in Yugoslavia, but he failed. In 1967, he hardly decided to sell the land on the basis of an agreement between Yugoslavia and the USA. He received symbolic compensation only three times, then he ran out of financial assets and the compensation was terminated. Thus, the  Adamič family remained without everything.

But life went on. Pavla, Rada, Mira and Tone got accustomed in the Slovenian community, searched for life companions and created families. Today, they speak to their numerous children, grandchildren and great grandchildren respectfully and with love about their homeland and the difficult path they had to walk. They remain spread between two homelands. And as said by the witness Mira Kosem Borštnik at the end of her story: “It seems to me that if once you go from home, of course you are alienated, the life begins elsewhere and you get accustomed there. But you are neither here nor there fully accepted. Although I know that I am a Slovenian, I love the homeland

The aforementioned testimony of Adamič sisters was also partly used in a bilingual publication entitled ‘Jaz vem, da sem Slovenka, jaz ljubim domovino!’ Begunska pot družine Adamič iz Sodražice (“I know that I am a Slovenian, I love the homeland!” The refugee route of the Adamič family from Sodražica). The publication was published in 2016 by the Study Centre for National Reconciliation.

Recorded on: 11/10/2011 in Cleveland, USA
Conversation led by: Marta Keršič, Recorded by: Jelka Piškurić