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Stane Žužek

Stane Žužek was born in 1937 in Ljubljana. His parents were from a village called Mala vas, near Dobrepolje. Stane’s father came to Ljubljana in 1919 to study at the University. The following year he got married and together with his wife they moved to Ljubljana. He got employed in public administration, but he was also involved in trade unionism. He was a member of the Yugoslav Professional Association, but as the Association was sympathising with Communism, he quit it. There were fifteen children in the Žužek family, two of whom died immediately after birth. Four of the brothers were members of the Jesuit order, two of them later left the order. The father was the chairperson of an anti-Communist campaign dedicated to ideological clarification and gave lectures in factories. He travelled all over Slovenia. During the War, he worked at the labour exchange, holding a leading position and saving at least 5000 people from forced labour during the German occupation, regardless of their ideological orientation. For that, people were very grateful to him.

On 5 May 1945, the family had to leave Slovenia. When they left Ljubljana, they did not expect to be leaving for good, but only for a fortnight. The father and the oldest son departed earlier. Stane was seven and a half years old when they left home. They took the last transport from Ljubljana and went first to Kranj, where they spent the night in a shelter. The next day, they passed through Tržič. From there, they walked to Ljubelj and through a tunnel to the Austrian side. They arrived in Borovlje on the evening of 6 May. There, they met the father and the brother. There were eleven of them: the parents and nine children. The youngest, Andrej, was only two and a half years old. They left from Borovlje for Klagenfurt, where they stayed in a school for three days. They decided to go to west Austria. They were then transported in American trucks to Udine, Italy, where they spent three days at a Salesian institute, from where they were transported to Monigo, near Treviso, to a former military barracks which was used as a civilian camp. They stayed there for about three months, during which time they learnt what happened to the Home Guard soldiers who were returned from Viktring to Yugoslavia. Two of the brothers were members of the Home Guard. The family was convinced they were dead, but they managed to get off the transport that was taking the Home Guard soldiers back to Yugoslavia and made it safely to Italy. The family continued from Monigo to Forli, where a flight school was located. They stayed there for three weeks before being sent to the camp in Senigallia, where Stane began attending school. After a year, the Slovenian refugees were transferred to Servigliano and from there to Barletta, where they also stayed for a year. Schooling was available in the Barletta camp. The camp also printed its newspaper named Sejalec (in Eng., The Sower) and held cultural events. In Barletta, the refugees were already deciding where to go next. The United States were welcoming the young and the single, while there were also options of going to Africa, Ecuador or Argentina. They decided for Argentina, which was open to accepting entire families. The children began to learn Spanish already in the camp.

They sailed for Argentina from Bremerhaven, Germany, on 5 May 1948. Upon arrival, they stayed in an expatriate hotel in Buenos Aires, then with the Jesuits, while the mother, sister and a younger brother stayed with the nuns. After six months, they moved to the current Centro Esloveno – Slovenska hiša (in Eng., Slovenian Centre) in Buenos Aires, where there were 70 people. The father worked in a factory and died in 1952. The mother was not employed, but the older brothers were, therefore they provided for the family. The mother died in 1980. Stane studied chemistry and was employed by the nuclear energy commission in Buenos Aires. He moved to Bariloche with his family in 1986 for reasons of employment.

Recorded: November 2013, Bariloche (Argentina)

Other participants in the conversation: Tamara Griesser Pečar, Renato Podbersič and Tino Mamič, camera: Renato Podbersič

Preparad for publication by: Mirjam Dujo Jurjevčič