Srečko Gaser was born on 14 March 1930 as the eldest son of Albin and Francka Gaser. His father was a factory worker in the Jesenice ironworks and a representative of the Yugoslav Workers’ Association (JRZ), so he got a job at the workers’ chamber in Belgrade. In November 1940, the family moved from Belgrade to Kranj, which was occupied by the Germans at the start of the war; his father’s office was seized. Srečko’s father was unemployed for a while, then he served for two years at the sickness fund. Later, he worked at the Julius Meinl grocer’s shop, delivering coffee. He was often summoned by the Partisans to join them, but he refused. Later, he was also summoned by the Home Guard; with them, he established the Home Guard post in Kranj. He was a staunch anti-communist.
At the end of the war, Srečko’s family retreated to Carinthia. They took some food with them and went to Tržič on a farm wagon; then they headed for Klagenfurt and, later, Viktring. They often ran into partisans on their path. Home Guard members had to surrender all their weapons to the British. In Viktring, Srečko’s father was elected the representative for the Radovljica district, which is how he found out Home Guard members were being returned to Yugoslavia. They spent about two months in Viktring; then, a part of the refugees was moved to Lienz, where they spent two years before being posted to Spittal. In the camp, Srečko attended gymnasium and was active in the scouts and otherwise. He completed training for welders.
From Carinthia, the family travelled to Argentina, with the journey taking three weeks; they stayed at the Hotel de Imigrantes. Srečko’s father decided to go to Córdoba, where the climate suited his health better. But he could not get work and died after one year. Srečko got a job at a can factory. He had already met his future wife, Helena Arnež, in the camp in Carinthia. They corresponded regularly, and when she came for a short visit in Argentina, they had a civil marriage. Then he followed her to the Northern United States, and they had a church wedding as well. In America, Srečko got a job and worked until he was eighty. They had four children, and the family expanded with grandchildren, too. Despite all the barriers he had encountered, Srečko was happy to live in peace and freedom.
Recorded: 14 October 2011, Cleveland (USA)
The conversation was led by: Marta Keršič, camera: Jelka Piškurić
Preparad for publication by: Marta Keršič