Posts filed under 'Slovenia'

1671: Hans Erasmus, Count of Tattenbach

Add comment December 1st, 2017 Headsman

Hans Erasmus, Count of Tattenbach, was beheaded as a traitor in Graz.

Governor of Styria in present-day Slovenia, Tattenbach took an unwise interest in Zrinski and Frankopan’s Magnate Conspiracy, hoping to position himself as a big wheel in the prospective southern realm broken away from the Austrian empire.

Perhaps a more thoroughgoing assessment of risks was called for.

Tattenbach’s own valet turned him in. The nobleman lost his head a few months after the plot’s principal authors, and punitive confiscation relieved his heirs of the count’s estates.

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 17th Century,Austria,Beheaded,Capital Punishment,Death Penalty,Execution,Habsburg Realm,History,Nobility,Public Executions,Slovenia,Treason

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1945: Majda Vrhovnik, Slovenian resistance

Add comment May 4th, 2017 Headsman

On this date in 1945, Slovene resistance member Majda Vrhovnik was executed by the Gestapo in Klagenfurt, days before the end of World War II.

A University of Ljubljana medical student and Communist destined to be honored as a national hero of Yugoslavia, Vrhovnik (English Wikipedia entry | Slovenian) joined the underground resistance when the Nazis occupied Yugoslvia in 1941. She’d spend the bulk of the war years producing and distributing illicit anti-occupation propaganda but by war’s end she had been detailed to nearby Klagenfurt — a heavily Slovene city just over the border in Austria.

She was finally caught there and arrested on February 28, 1945, and shot in prison even as Klagenfurt awaited Allied occupation which would arrive on May 8.

Her credentials as a patriotic martyr — there’s a Majda Vrhovnik school named for her — would surface her name in 1988 in connection with an affair that helped begin the breakup of Yugoslavia into ethnic statelets, when an opposition journalist published a censored article under the pseudonym “Majda Vrhovnik”.

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 20th Century,Austria,Doctors,Execution,Germany,History,No Formal Charge,Occupation and Colonialism,Revolutionaries,Shot,Slovenia,Spies,Torture,Wartime Executions,Women,Yugoslavia

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1946: Leon Rupnik, Erwin Rosener, and Lovro Hacin, for the occupation of Slovenia

Add comment September 4th, 2015 Headsman

On this date in 1946, the postwar state of Yugoslavia executed a trio of World War II occupation figures.

Left to right: Leon Rupnik, Erwin Rosener, and Lovro Hacin.

An Austro-Hungarian subject by birth, Leon Rupnik followed his native Slovenian soil into (proto-)Yugoslavia after the empire collapsed in World War I, and climbed the military ranks in the interwar era.

General Rupnik, as he could then be called, was the man tasked with engineering fortifications along the Italian and Austrian borders to ward off a fascist invasion. Modeled on the Maginot Line and every bit as effective, the Rupnik Line was little more than a speed bump when the Germans and Italians swept in during April of 1941.

But Gen. Rupnik was an open Nazi sympathizer, so sentimentality for his failed bunkers scarcely deterred him from joining the new occupation government as an enthusiastic collaborator, and he served or a time as the president of the German puppet province and the mayor of its capital, Ljubljana.

Erwin Rosener was a onetime brownshirt who became an SS General and was tasked by Heinrich Himmler with suppressing partisan resistance in Slovenia. He did the usual dirty things such a job entails, ordering torture and executions of hostages; Gen. Rosener also helped Gen. Rupnik organize the right-wing paramilitary Home Guard (Domobranci).

Lovro Hacin, the third member of the doomed party, was the police chief of Ljubljana.

Rupnik was shot. Rosener and Hacin were executed by hanging.

Rupnik (leftmost on the platform) reviews fascist Dombranci militia with Bishop Rozman and (rightmost) Gen. Rosener, January 30 1945.

Three others escaped execution at the same trials. Vilko Vizjak and Mha Krek both drew prison terms; Bishop Gregorij Rozman did as well, but his trial occurred in absentia and Rozman lived out his in exile.

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Entry Filed under: 20th Century,Capital Punishment,Death Penalty,Execution,Hanged,History,Occupation and Colonialism,Politicians,Shot,Slovenia,Soldiers,Treason,War Crimes

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1943: Lojze Grozde, beatified Slovenian

3 comments January 1st, 2011 Headsman

On this date in 1943, Slovenian student Lojze Grozde was executed by communist partisans.

An ardent young Catholic, the 19-year-old Grozde was on his way from boarding school in Ljubljana in Italian-occupied Slovenia* to visit some relatives when he was stopped at a roadblock.

Partisans who found the devotional book The Imitation of Christ on his person were a mite hostile, since the Holy See was not exactly at loggerheads with fascism.

All of Yugoslavia had become one gigantic dirty war, and though individual Catholics might fall anywhere on the political spectrum, the institutional church did not shy from working with fascists, who had the virtue of sharing the See’s hatred of communism.

Catholic Action, to which our day’s victim belonged, was among the many entities supplying volunteer paramilitaries that partnered with the Italian occupation.

We’ve seen this dynamic elsewhere in Eastern Europe; it may be too pat to say that all these paramilitaries were fascists, but it’s much too little to characterize them as unwilling about the partnership.** The headsman does not issue verdicts; he only carries them out.

The Archbishop of Ljubljana, Gregorij Rozman, an “enthusiastic Nazi collaborator,”† had only weeks before enthused over the Italians’ growing openness to their Slovenian partners:

We should be allowed to establish protective armed units under Slovene command in all rural areas … from men worthy of trust, to fully guarantee that the arms will be used exclusively against rebellious elements that endanger the land either with arms or revolutionary propaganda.

The soldiers have already dispersed the camps and groups of the rebels, but many of them are still in the woods and in villages, where they are camouflaged as peace-loving citizens. Such persons are not known to the Italian armed forces. Because of their unfamiliarity with the language and the difficulty of finding those who help those who hide in the woods, it will be very difficult to find the culprits. But for the local young men such difficulties are nonexistent or can easily be overcome…

His Excellence, General Roatta, has said that the people must now choose between order and Bolshevism. We have chosen order, and propose the only way that in our humble opinion will be effective and certain to achieve complete order in active collaboration with the authorities.

(Quoted here)

The partisans who caught our day’s principal apparently jumped to the conclusion that Grozde was an anti-communist paramilitary based on his Catholic Action association and the Italian passes he was carrying for his visit; his body, when recovered, bore the marks of torture.

Even the partisans had to cop to an over-hasty judgment in this instance, and while there’s been some dispute over the years about whether Grozde might not have been up to something more political than “visiting relatives,” Rome has been energetic about rehabilitating its man — perhaps as the thin edge of the wedge for vindicating more controversial Slovene Catholic “collaborators”.

Lojze Grozde was beatified in 2010.

* Slovenia was partitioned between the Italians and the Germans early in the war; the German occupation was the more heavy-handed, but both countries designed ethnic cleansing policies. (pdf)

** Some representative slants on the matter, from different angles both sympathetic to Slovenian Catholics’ predicament:

the communists, who were in complete command of the Partisan movement, were concerned not so much about national liberation as such, as about eliminating their political rivals, carrying out their “social revolution”, and seizing power … [anti-communist Slovenes’] great disadvantage was that they had to carry out their struggle on the side of the Germans, who, on the other hand, did not hesitate to force them into compromising actions, for example, to take an oath to Hitler. As a result, they and their political exponents were branded as collaborators.

Yugoslavia: A History of Its Demise


If the Partisans had not been set on seizing power by revolution, one could speculate that the Catholics, who had dominated Slovenian politics before the war, could have conceivably regained power and run a government little different from that in Italy. The only difference was that, whereas Italian Christian Democrat leader Alcide de Gasperi had kept clear of the Fascists during the war, the Slovene Catholics collaborated … the Communist threat was real and life-threatening, and the Catholics can claim credit for opposing it consistently. However, Catholic writings of the time caricature Communists as devils and anti-Christs. Today such virulence seems overdone … the Communists equated collaboration with treason. However, this seems unfounded. The Catholics who opposed them loved their country as much as anybody else … They just wanted a different regime from the Communists to take power at the end of the war.

Slovenia 1945: Memories of Death and Survival after World War II

† “We are thankful to God,” Rozman wrote in a 1941 pastoral letter, “who inspired the leader of Greater Italy with the thoughts of generous rightfulness and considerate wisdom … [to establish] the Ljubljana province.” (From Slovenia 1945: Memories of Death and Survival after World War II)

Not everyone is so harsh Archbishop Rozman.

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Entry Filed under: 20th Century,Activists,Espionage,Execution,History,Martyrs,Occupation and Colonialism,Religious Figures,Ripped from the Headlines,Shot,Slovenia,Torture,Wartime Executions

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