Tončka Prošnik, married Marolt, was born on 16 January 1926 in Horjul. She was the youngest of five children in the family. When she was 9 years old, her father died, so the mother was left alone with the children. They made their living with agriculture and what they produced at home. When the World War II began, Tončka was 16 years old. She disliked Italians because they trespassed on houses, stole chickens and cats and, above all, shot innocent boys as hostages or sent them to internment, and committed arson.
According to her, the Horjul valley was mainly “poisoned” with communism by Cene Logar. He “corrupted” the youth: they had a political school and rallies in Les na Koreni. It is from these activities that the Liberation Front later developed. At first, the partisans declared they were fighting against the occupier, but then things changed. They spread fear among the people. In 1942 and 1943, Tončka lived in Borovnica, where she helped in the parish. The local pastor told her that in June 1942, the mayor of Horjul and his wife had been murdered. Later on, another serious crime took place: the partisans took seven people from Zaklanec and murdered them nearby. Tončka’s brother was also a victim of revolutionary violence in December 1942. He joined the partisans for 14 days, but when he saw what they were doing, he fled from them and joined the civic guard. His death greatly affected the family, as he took care of the family’s livelihood as a carpenter. The oldest brother joined the Home Guard, in 1945 fled to Carinthia, from where the British returned him to Slovenia. He was transported to Teharje, and from there every trace of him has been lost. Tončka’s two sisters also left their homeland out of great fear and set out into the world. Tončka and her mother were left alone.
In May 1945, when Tončka was working in the field, two OZNA members approached her. She had to go to Vrhnika with them and onwards on foot to Logatec, where she was placed in the local castle together with about thirty other women. Members of OZNA interrogated and beat them. On 7 June 1945, they were loaded on trucks and transported to the camp in Šentvid nad Ljubljano. Tončka, along with five other women and several men, was sentenced to death. She waited in a basement to be taken away, but was granted amnesty in August of the same year. She was thus exonerated from the death penalty and taken to the Kočevje camp. There, she was forced to do heavy farm work. People were housed in barracks and sometimes they slept right in the field, since they worked from five in the morning until eight in the evening. The food was very poor, so Tončka was visibly withering. She weighed only 28 kg, she was exhausted, with blisters on her legs and scabs everywhere. Her teeth also hurt. In February 1946, the Kočevje camp inmates were transported to various places. Tončka was taken to Teharje. In May 1946, she was transported to Begunje in Gorenjskem, where she worked at a sewing factory. Women were divided into groups and had to achieve a determined work norm. They sewed men’s work clothes on sewing machines of a German brand, namely Singer. She could not write home, she rarely received packages. Women also had to attend political lectures in prison. Female political prisoners were imprisoned along with other female convicts and criminals. Tončka came home from prison in 1948.
Photo: Tončka in 1948, when she was released from prison.
Tončka never received an indictment. It was not before Slovenia’s independence that she and her friend Krista Mrak went to the Archives of the Republic of Slovenia, where they were presented with the indictment, which was filled with lies. She was accused of carrying mail and betraying partisans to the Home Guard, which was not true.
Tončka’s husband, Bernard Marolt from Korena, was also sentenced to death and later imprisoned for almost six years. The last place of his imprisonment was in Maribor. He came home in 1951. Soon after his return from prison, they married. They had a son, which Tončka saw as a miracle, since women were poisoned with all sorts of things in prisons and were later often unable to conceive.
Despite the difficult life situations, Tončka had a lot of courage and will to live. She says they prayed a lot, but quietly, so that the guards would not hear them. That is what saved them. Their faith helped them survive. She does not carry any fear and bitterness inside of her, she communicates without hesitation all that has happened to her and all she has survived in her life.
Recorded: 17 October, Horjul (Slovenia)
The conversation was led by: Marta Keršič, camera: Mirjam Dujo Jurjevčič
Preparad for publication by: Marta Keršič and Mirjam Dujo Jurjevčič