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TESTIMONIES

South America

Stane Žužek

There were fifteen children in the Žužek family, two of whom died immediately after birth. Four of the brothers joined the Jesuits, two of them later left. The father worked in the public administration and was an opponent of Communism. The family left Slovenia on 5 May 1945 thinking that they would return in fourteen days. They journeyed from Austria to various camps in Italy and on 5 May 1948, exactly three years after they left home, they sailed to Argentina to make a new life for themselves.

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Ivan Žnidar

Ivan Žnidar was born in 1920 in Suhadole near Komenda. In March 1943, he was mobilised to the German Army. More precisely, he was sent to Germany for military training. After a fortnight, the mobilised were sent to Dijon in France, south of Paris, where they had military exercises. Then, they were sent back to Germany. He was supposed to go to the eastern front, but he asked for the leave that was due to him and so he went home instead. One night, he was visited by partisans and invited to join them. Ivan made an excuse saying he was not fit to be a soldier. He returned to Germany to his unit and was then sent to Greece. When the War ended, he surrendered to the Greek partisans, together with some French mobilised soldiers. After the arrival of the British, the boys were transported to Italy. He lived in several camps in southern Italy until he left for Argentina in 1948.

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Tone Žagar

Tone Žagar was born in 1929 in Dvor pri Polhovem Gradcu. His father was killed by a bomb which was planted by the partisans in 1943. After his death, the family struggled to make ends meet. After the War, Tone and his sister emigrated to Austrian Carinthia. There, he met his brother Franc, who decided to return to Yugoslavia. France was killed in the post-war massacres. Tone remained in Austria, where he worked in a factory. He left for Argentina in 1949.

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France Resnik

France Resnik was born in 1926 in Trebelno pri Palovčah. In August 1943, he was summoned to the Reich Labour Service for six months, then mobilised to the German Army and sent to the south of France, to the French Riviera, where he served as a guard. They were awaiting Allied fleet and holding military exercises. In August 1944, they crossed the Alps on foot in order to get to Italy. At the end of the War, he turned himself in to the Americans, together with two other Slovenian mobilised soldiers. They were sent to the Aversa camp near Naples. The number of Slovenian mobilised soldiers placed there was somewhere between 800 and 900. Like many Slovenians in Italian camps, he later moved to Argentina. He returned to Slovenia for the first time in 1970.

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Ivan Drajzibner

Ivan Drajzibner was born in the village of Sladki Vrh in the Štajerska region. In 1942 he was mobilised to Hitlerjugend and in 1943 sent to the regular German Army, Wehrmacht, in France, where he served in the artillery. In September 1944, during the retreat of the German Army from France, he was captured by French soldiers. After a fortnight, he was turned over to the Americans together with other prisoners and was placed in the Aversa camp in Italy until January 1945. The prisoners were then turned over to the British and brought to a camp near Brindisi. After the end of the War, Ivan joined the British Army with some other prisoners and transported war equipment from Italy to Austria and Germany. In 1947, when the British left Italy, the prisoners were sent to civilian refugee camps. Ivan went to the Senigallia refugee camp and stayed there for two years. He got married in the camp and in 1949 moved with his wife to Argentina, where he settled and started a family. He returned to Slovenia several times, with his first return in 1971.

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Mici Malavašič Cassullo

Mici Malavašič was born in the parish of Šentjošt nad Horjulom three years before the beginning of the World War II. During the War, the partisans threatened his father with death, because a young priest, Srečko Huth, who was later a victim of revolutionary violence, lived with them. After the end of the War, the Malavašič family, fearing Communism, fled with other refugees to Austrian Carinthia. From there, they travelled to Argentina, where they arrived in 1948. There, Mici became actively involved in the Slovenian community and for many years participated in numerous activities and projects of the expatriate institution Naš dom.

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Albinca Žonta Malavašič

Albinca Žonta Malavašič from Šentjošt nad Horjulom, witnessed revolutionary violence during the World War II, as well as the arson of their home, murder of two brothers, faced constant fear of partisans and, at the end of the War, was forced to flee abroad due to partisan revenge. She fled with her family to Austrian Carinthia and from there to Argentina, where she created a new life for herself.

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Branko Rebozov

Dr. Rozina Švent, historian and librarian, on Branko Rebozov’s attitude towards Slovenehood: “I have met Branko in person three times, twice when he visited Slovenia, in 2000 and 2005, and in person in Buenos Aires in 2001. One would be hard pressed to find a person so dedicated to Slovenehood among expatriates … Wherever he was able to express his Slovenehood, he did so directly.”

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Dr. Mirko Gogala

Mirko Gogala found refuge in Argentina as a post-war refugee, and he made a great deal of good for the people assigned to him as a spiritual shepherd, both for Slovenians and Argentines. He did not make differences between the nations, he was talking about God’s glory. He achieved many honours in the Argentine Church as a prelate, a doctor of theology, a professor at various universities, but most of all meant to him the day when Bishop Rožman dedicated him to the priest, Christ’s deputy.

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Justina Lukančič Fajfar

Miraculously, Justina Lukančič several times managed to escape death. Courage and firm will led her through many obstacles. With her friend Pavla, they pretended to be the prisoners from Auschwitz, so they went past many Partisan patrols and luckily arrived to Italy. On 11 July 1948, she sailed off to Argentina by ship.

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Jože Tominc

Jože Tominc was born in Argentina as a son of refugee parents. He took over a lot of love to the Slovenia homeland. Since he married with an Argentinian, he tasted the bitterness of exclusion from the Slovenian community. From the first visit to Slovenia, he regularly returns to the birthplace of parents.

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Jožefa Katarina Debeljak Žakelj

Jožejka Debeljak Žakelj, a daughter of Dr. Tine Debeljak speaks of her life, her father, her long years of separation from him, the refugees and her aunt the painter Bara Remec. Today she lives in the province of Tucumán, in the North West of Argentina, where only a handful of Slovenians live, who with unbelievable love preserve the Slovenian language and deep respect for the Slovenian nation.

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