Around Ljubljana it developed earlier, because here the leadership was I joined the students from the Faculty of Law for a while. because then the LF developed into an organizational network, covering all of Ljubljana. Don’t forget that Ljubljana was closed in by a wire fence to that time. They were strictly guarded, and sometimes we could even go out. We expressed it in many ways. Firstly, just by helping. This wasn’t manifested publicly. Italy had immediately begun to send people whom they considered suspicious of working for the LF to the internment camp. Once in internment it was necessary to take care of the families of the internees and of people who joined the partisans. And also of the illegal, which didn’t get coupons for rations. Places had to be arranged for meetings, in houses, where people were willing to risk letting people in to LF meetings. That way we knew we could trust each other. We even had code names among each other. it was Vida Janezic, who today is proclaimed a national hero – we both used a bucket and poured axle grease along the length of Celovska Street and stuck it with LF inscriptions. But it snowed the next morning and nothing of our writings remained. and then before the military leadership and the administrational leadership of the occupier. Finally also in front of the Ljubljana diocese. I was at all of these demonstrations. More were here on the cemetery by the graves of the hostages. The largest movement was at the capitulation, at the fall of fascism, not yet being the capitulation of Italy. To that time Italy, as the occupier, felt weaker and we could afford a huge demonstration on Miklosiceva Street. I noticed how the occupiers’ military vehicles rode up and down the road and how the soldiers sat on them and how some of them seemed in favor of us. Some even smiled or waved. Soon after, Italy capitulated.
It felt truly horrible to me that Ljubljana was enclosed with a barbed wire, because I’m extremely attached to nature. All of a sudden I wasn’t permitted to leave Ljubljana. some sort of legitimation paper, if you weren’t poorly thought of by the occupying police. So as long as I still had the lascia passare, I’d still cycle to the outskirts of Ljubljana. To find a way back out into the nature, I turned my ‘bicycle’ into a ‘tricycle’. So I could go out again on my tricycle. I rode to the Ljubljana Marsh and such like. Returning to the city, the guards stopped me somebody started shrieking that I should be stopped. What I was doing with this? I told them that I went out into the nature. My father opened the door and asked if I really was his daughter. He confirmed.
As soon as my father was taken away, I began to sleep elsewhere. they wouldn’t let me go underground because it might evoke my family having to pay for it. But when they took my father away, and then 14 days later evicted my mother from the apartment, I knew that I couldn’t stay in a legal apartment anymore. I immediately moved out and over to the house of a colleague, Erni Korijari. She was a member of the LF and worked the props at the Ljubljana Drama house. She took me into hiding in her place. she didn’t have her own apartment anymore and stayed at her sister’s place. I passed that message to my own superiors in the LF network. Every building had a listing of all the people staying there. Every so often there would be raids. they were taken away; also all those who were hiding them. they would consciously accept this person into their home and partly also share their food. As illegal we would have to stay with people who didn’t even know who we were. They just trusted us in needing help on the basis of the code word. Then I’d have to leave already the next day or night. It was with strangers that I was staying when finally, that one afternoon my friend Neda Grzinic came to see me.
That evening a courier indeed brought me my passport, a fake one with a fabricated name. I headed to the train station and took a train down to the Primorje. The last call was in a place called Kosana; that’s where all the illegal from Ljubljana went. I turned to him to say the code – Matija sends me from Ljubljana. He responded – Vremscica. At the time I didn’t know what Vremscica was. After WWII I became a mountaineer and hiked up Vremscica many times. A very long journey ensued of course. Ultimately our goal was the village of Obcice pod Kolevskim Rogom. It was all unforgettable beautiful, already with my leaving Ljubljana and going to liberated territory. That was something incredible to me, to have found myself suddenly surrounded by nature after four months of hiding in basements. The journey through the Kolpa valley was extremely beautiful: first Cebranke and the Kolpa, which is when we left the liberated territory and headed into the Loska valley towards Bela krajina. And there was the fact that I finally got to work on art work. I was also perfectly willing to join the brigade. First, I was to make the stage setting in the theater. But there wasn’t enough to do, because there weren’t that many premieres. So I suggested that they call me on demand. A house painter from Crnomelj helped me and with joined forces we managed to paint over all of it and get everything ready.
There were very many cultural workers with the partisans. The theater was relatively well represented and many premieres were held. For one premiere, for Bor’s Raztrganci, I contributed the stage scenery. One of the most important components of the ‘Central Technique’ (of the Slovene Communist Party Workshop) was the partisan printing press. Partisan printing presses were hidden all over the hills of Kocevski Rog and also Goteniski Sneznik. They printed partisan newspapers, brochures and even poetry collections and song-books.
Later, Vito, a partisan not yet 26 years old, came to the Central Technique. His wish was to become a vocational painter after the war. Vito came to the Central Technique after me. Before though, he spent a long time in an Italian internment camp. Due to the long and harsh conditions, he suffered from a very bad case of articular rheumatism. He didn’t go home when Italy capitulated, because that would still have been too dangerous. Rather, he went straight to the partisans and in the dead of winter, joined the march of the Ljubljana brigade and the 18th division to Gorski Kotar. It was a terribly cold winter and his rheumatism went worse. He slept with high temperature directly upon some branches lying on the snow. His high temperature from the infection then affected his cardiac valves. Although he and we were unaware, he was dead sick when he came to the Central Technique. When we withdrew from Bela krajina, he was suffering from anginal infections. He had his first heart attack in the Gorski Kotar, but recovered from that. We then arrived to Ljubljana believing the war to be coming to its end, and the end of sicknesses, the end of all things bad. It was only a year and three months later that he died because of a cardiac valve infection, being a death sentence to that time.
So on the very day that Ljubljana was liberated, to the same time being the end of WWII, She barely saved her life from the burning building. It was the first night that she was staying in the apartment that she attained from the housing administration. My mother was left with nothing of what had before been One had to survive. So I’ve survived for most of my life. I’ve supported myself as a professor of art, initially at high schools and then, following the reorganization of the schooling system, in elementary schools. All up to my retirement in 1969, when I finally found my true calling.
Alenka Gerlovic (1919 - 2010)
1944 - 1945: Ljubljana (Slovenia)
Partisan, Unarmed Resistance
gruppi di resistenza