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Jože Košir

In his testimony, Jože Košir presents the story of his family and the fate of his parents Jožef Košir and Marija Košir, born Beber. His father Jožef Košir (1927-1996) was a trained barber. During the World War II, he was an informant for the partisan detachment of Kozjansko and, according to some sources, also a collaborator of the Liberation Front. After the end of the War, he was a border guard at the Yugoslav-Austrian border until he was demobilised on 1 April 1948. A year later, he married Marija Beber and soon began to be monitored by the State Security Administration (Udba). On 21 November 1949, he was arrested and imprisoned in central Udba prisons in Ljubljana for his alleged activities against the state. In prison, he was interrogated by Udba investigators, who used violence and threats to force out of him a confession that he was a member of an illegal organization called Matjaž’s Army in Sevnica. Its aim was supposedly to violently overthrow the existing state system and organization. Jožef Košir was convicted in December 1949 in a political and show trial taking place at the Brežice Castle. He was sentenced to 16 years of imprisonment with forced labour and 5 years of civil rights’ loss. The judgment was upheld by the Supreme Court in January 1950. In December 1952, Košir’s imprisonment sentence was reduced from 16 to 10 years. He served his sentence in various labour camps and prisons. He was released at the end of November 1955.

His wife Marija and her father Janez Beber had also been convicted in the trial against supporters of the Sevnica-based organization Matjaž’s Army, on 24 May 1950, for allegedly knowing of the operation of the concerned illegal organization without reporting it to the authorities. The Ljubljana District Court sentenced both to a year and 6 months of correctional labour.

Witness Jože says that the whole family felt the consequences of the unjust conviction and remembers his father’s efforts for rehabilitation. The father did not live to see it, as the decision to annul both 1949 judgements reached his home address a month after his death in 1996. In 2018, Commission for the Implementation of the Redressing of Injustices Act granted Jožef and Marija Košir the status of former political prisoners.

The story of Jožef Košir is presented in more detail in an article by dr. Mateja Čoh Kladnik titled “Jožef Košir and Matjaž’s Army in Sevnica”. The article was published in a scientific monograph Usode Slovencev v vrtincu 20. stoletja (The Fate of Slovenians in the Vortex of the 20th Century), issued in 2019 by the Study Centre for National Reconciliation.

Recorded: 21 January 2020, Study Centre for National Reconciliation, Ljubljana (Slovenia)

The conversation was led by: Mateja Čoh Kladnik, camera: Mirjam Dujo Jurjevčič

Preparad for publication by: Mateja Čoh Kladnik and Mirjam Dujo Jurjevčič