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Anton Ivanetič

Anton Ivanetič was born in 1937 in Semič. His father Jože was first a member of the partisans, but later left them and joined the civic guards. Anton’s mother was against the partisans, so she supposedly convinced Anton’s father to leave the partisans for the civic guards. One evening, as she was returning from the neighbours with her children, she found partisans awaiting her in front of her house. They demanded of her to tell them where her husband was, otherwise they would shoot her. She replied that they could go ahead and kill her, along with the children. Anton remembers how terrified everyone was. The partisans ordered the mother to tell her husband to report to the partisan command, otherwise they would kill her. After that, Anton’s father did in fact go there. He never again returned home. Anton is convinced that a neighbour told on him to the partisans because of some resentments from the past. In December 1943, shortly after Anton’s younger sister was born, every trace of the father was lost. Nevertheless, they continued to wait for him for many years after the War. At the time, people supposedly knew what happened to him, but if anyone was to talk about it, they would be killed.

The family suffered greatly from food shortages after the disappearance of the father. The mother became bitter and, as Anton recalls, she never hugged him. Work always came first and school second. In addition to being deprived of basic material goods, he was also deprived of his mother’s love. Once, when the snow fell, he had to go to school and back home barefoot. He then didn’t go back to school until spring, because he didn’t have shoes. During the winter, they were, therefore, confined to the house. They lived in great poverty, so the mother sent Anton’s older brother to his grandparents and uncle Jože, who severely beat him. Anton’s sister also stayed with them for a while, until a neighbour took her in. Anton had to go to a farm where he worked as a farmhand. There, he was held in contempt and several times beaten. In the summer, he could not attend school regularly because he had to do the farmwork. He completed four grades of primary school.

Anton has suffered through a lot and is convinced that his father would have taken good care of the family if he had still been alive. But as it was, the mother had difficulty supporting all the children and taming them. She was without income, worked at local farms and got some flour in return. As a family, they felt the utmost neglect. People called them “sobenkarji”, meaning the poor people.

After the War, the municipality of Črnomelj organized schooling for war orphans in Ljubljana. Thus, Anton and his younger brother were also allowed to go to school. He lived in an apprentice accommodation facility. He was training to be a blacksmith and worked hard, but with pleasure, at some blacksmith shop. After a year and a half, however, he came into conflict with an assistant at the smithy, who hit Anton hard for no reason. Anton could not get over this fight, so he stopped learning. He stayed in Ljubljana and got a job at a logistics company, Globus-Špedicija, after which he went into army. After completing his military service in 1961, and until Slovenia’s independence in 1991, he worked as a haulier. Then, he found employment at a motorway maintenance company and stayed there until his retirement. Anton says that no one was inviting him to join the Party, not in the army nor at work. He assumes that this was because they knew about his past or because his father was killed by the partisans. His son also had difficulties getting into police school because they had information about his grandfather, but since police officers were in high demand, he was accepted anyway. Anton took care of his mother to the best of his ability. He built her a modest home, without electricity and water, as she had to move out of the house where she had previously lived. When she could no longer take care of herself, he provided her with a place in a nursing home, where she did not want to live. She even escaped a few times and finally came to a tragic end, when she jumped into the river Krka in Novo Mesto.

As Anton points out, his mother’s brother Jože was a staunch partisan. It was rumoured that the uncle killed quite some people. He once captured two or three civic guards and murdered them in the middle of the village. The entire village asked him not to do it, but no one dared to stand up to him. The locals were afraid of the uncle even after the War. He carried a rifle with him and did not let anyone step on his property.

Despite a difficult life, full of trials and lack of parental love, Anton always accepted all difficulties with good will and serenity.

Recorded: 9 February 2011, Study Centre for National Reconciliation, Ljubljana

The conversation was led by: Marta Keršič, camera: Mirjam Dujo Jurjevčič

Preparad for publication by: Mirjam Dujo Jurjevčič and Marta Keršič