Branko Rebozov was born in 1926 in Sevnica and lived through his childhood and adolescence in difficult social conditions. He mostly grew up in Salesian institutions. After the Italian capitulation in September 1943, he was forcibly mobilised to the partisans, from where he escaped after two months and joined the Home Guard. After the end of the War, he fled with them to Austrian Carinthia as a refugee, from where he was not returned to Yugoslavia, but later moved to Argentina. His immeasurable love for Slovenia stayed with him throughout his years abroad. In Argentina and Slovenia, he published poetry and prose in magazines, translated young Slovenian poets who created in Spanish and in 2012 published a collection of poems Črn plamen (Black Flame).
In the book Spomini in misli (Memories and Thoughts), which was published posthumously (he died in 2013 in Buenos Aires), Branko Rebozov remembers his wartime experiences and the first post-war years. He is critical of the revolution, partisanship, Home Guard, as well as of the British fraud regarding the return of members of the Home Guard and of civilians to Yugoslavia, and of the inability of Slovenian leaders to prevent this.
We encounter the story of Branko Rebozov indirectly, through the words of the Trieste publicist Ivo Jevnikar. The book Spomini in misli was published by the Mladika publishing house, Trieste. It belongs to the collection Zapisi iz zdomstva (Records from Exile), which is edited by Ivo Jevnikar.
In continuation, we follow the memories of Božidar Trefalt, a good friend of Reboz, who spent the inter-war period with him and is one of the last living survivors of the Šentvid extermination camp. Božidar and Branko didn’t see each other since Christmas in 1944 and until the year 1992, when Branko visited Slovenia after many decades. Their friendship blossomed again.
Contacts with Rebozov and his view of Slovenehood are also presented by the librarian and historian dr. Rozina Švent, who was, from 1982 and until her retirement, the head of the department in charge of the collection of written work by Slovenians outside the Republic of Slovenia, which operates under the National and University Library. This department was formerly called Bookstock D and it is where the banned literature was collected. Dr. Švent corresponded with the author for many years and met him in person several times.
In the written testimony of Branko Rebozov, we follow a detailed description of the events on the Viktring field in May 1945, when he and the Home Guard were awaiting what was to come. Rebozov interestingly describes a meeting with a Serbian volunteer, the son of Dimitrij Ljotić, who managed to escape from a train by means of which the British were returning Serbian volunteers back to Yugoslavia. Ljotić warned Rebozov and told him what was happening to the returned Home Guard members, and Rebozov, in turn, tried to inform the command of the Slovenian Home Guard about this. Not only was he unsuccessful, but they even threatened to imprison him if he would spread such “lies” among the soldiers. Together with his friends he decided to escape from Viktring. Before that, he asked Vuk Rupnik for advice and permission to escape.
We received the written testimony at the Study Centre for National Reconciliation on 1 April 2009.
On Friday, 8 October 2021, the Study Centre for National Reconciliation and the Association of Slovenian Intellectuals Trieste held an expert symposium titled “They have Demonstrated Their Slovenehood in the Wide World” in the hall of Finžgarjev Dom in Opicina near Trieste. The symposium presented the fates of seven individuals who were driven abroad by the War and revolution and who became well known abroad, in the expatriate communities as well as in the broader Slovenian context. Their stories shed light on the circumstances in which they found themselves and in which they lived. The presentation found its starting point in their memories, which have so far been published in the collection titled Zapisi iz zdomstva (in Eng., Records from Exile). The collection is edited by Ivo Jevnikar (Mladika publishing house, Trieste). Based on the recorded memories, the lecturers presented the life journey of the seven individuals.
In continuation, we present dr. Andrej Fink’s contribution on Branko Rebozov.
Preparad for publication by: Mirjam Dujo Jurjevčič and Marta Keršič