Ivan Zakrajšek


The couple Zdenka and Ivan Zakrajšek met in America, where they found themselves after the World War II as refugees. Ivan was born at Brod near Sv. Križ, today Podbočje in 1933, his home was right next to the Krka River. When he was six years old, the family, in fear of deportation by the Germans, moved to the other side of the Krka River, where the area was occupied by the Italians. Ivan’s father worked in America during the war, where he went before the World War II. He wanted his family to join him, but this was not possible due to the war. Through a series of circumstances, only in 1955 Ivan succeeded to meet his father after long sixteen years. Ivan joined the Slovenian community and began a new life. He is one of the few who served in two armies, Yugoslav and American. He very clearly tells about the differences between the two military orders.

Ivan’s wife Zdenka, born Mejač, was born in Ljubljana in 1940. Her father was a joiner, and her mother had a mill. Her father was not a member of the Home Guard during the World War II, but after the war he was threatened to be killed, so he and his family withdrew. The mother was right before childbirth. They came to the Vetrinj camp, where they lived outdoors. The mother gave birth to the brother in a military hospital there. When she left the hospital, she did not have anything to swaddle the child. She was lying on wooden boards under the trees. From there, they went to Spittal and their life was settled. The refugees were quickly organized with schools, cultural and sporting events, numerous courses and socializing.

When she was nine years old, Zdenka left the refugee camp in Carinthia and moved from there with her parents to America. In Cleveland, she met Ivan, married to him and created a family. They had four children, three sons and one daughter. Her great commitment to the Slovenian community and the operation under its cultural patronage preserved her connection with the Slovenian language, the word and the song, which she also passed on to her descendants. The parish of Sv. Vida and the parish of Marija Vnebovzeta, where every Sunday there are masses and meetings of Slovenians at Pristava, have given them great pleasure.

Recorded on: 28/11/2016 in Cleveland (USA)
Conversation led by: Renato Podbersič, Camera: Boštjan Kolarič