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Flag of the Slovene Home Guard [1]

The Slovene Home Guard (Slovene: Slovensko domobranstvo or SD; German: Slowenische Landeswehr), SD for short, was a World War II collaborationist militia [2] in the Province of Ljubljana (in what is now Slovenia). Slovenia was the northernmost part of Yugoslavia and, after the invasion of Yugoslavia, Slovenian territory was divided between the Third Reich, which annexed Lower Styria, Upper Carniola, Slovenian Carinthia and the Posavje, the Italy which annexed south-east Slovenia with Ljubljana, and Hungary which annexed Prekmurje.

Contents

Formation

On 24 September 1943, the SD was formed by order of SS General Rösener.[3] Rösener awarded service and combat medals to the members of the SD.[4] An individual member of the SD was a Domobranec, the plural of which was Domobranci. In its aims and ideology, the SD was anti-Partisan and anti-communist.

The Slovene Home Guard (SD) functioned like most collaborationist forces in Axis-occupied Europe during World War II, but had limited autonomy, and at first functioning as an auxiliary police force that assisted the Germans in anti-Partisan actions. Later, it gained more autonomy and conducted most of the anti-Partisan operations in Slovenia, while still having German officers in command [5]. The SD supported their military actions by publishing a regular newspaper and pamphlets [6].

The majority of the SD forces were infantry, although they also possessed artillery units, which were, however, seldom used. The SD had no armoured units (except for a few armoured trains), even though several tank crews were sent to Germany for training. The SD used Italian equipment (confiscated when Italy dropped out of the war in September 1943), and weapons, uniforms and equipment supplied by the Germans, especially later in the war [7].

Almost all SD members fled Slovenia and took refuge in the Southern Austrian province of Carinthia at the end of the war (May 1945). Most were returned to Yugoslavia by the British military administration, of whom many were executed by the new communist authorities; the total number of Domobranci summarily executed in mass executions by the authorities exceeds 12,000.[8] In what became known as the "Zaliv Affair", in 1975 the massacre was publicly condemned by the Slovene poet Edvard Kocbek, resulting in a Yugoslav campaign against his works.

Leading figures

General Leon Rupnik was the chief inspector of SD from 1943 until 1945, when he was made its leader.

Colonel Ernest Peterlin, being also the military leader of the underground Slovene Legion, was one of the leading SD officers. He was arrested by Gestapo and sent to Dachau concentration camp in September 1944, because of his connections with western allies.

Ljenko Urbančič, a prominent member of SD, became known as "Ljubljana's Little Goebbels" [9], known for placing pro-Nazi and anti-Semitic propaganda in newspapers and on radio.

Franc Frakelj was the leader of a group of Domobranci that called themselves ‘the Twelve Apostles’ who massacred up to 60 local people using wooden stakes in the winter of 1943-44 in the marshes south of Ljubljana [10].

Bishop Gregorij Rožman was the religious leader of SD.

SD Anti-Semitism

Leon Rupnik gave a number of anti-Semitic lectures. In a lecture entitled 'Bolshevism: a tool of international Judaism' and subtitled 'Jewish endeavours towards global supremacy' in Ljubljana, 1944:

"The Jews straight dogmatic hatred of all who are not Jewish is finally challenged everywhere by a revolt by the home nation that sooner or later removes all parasites from their country or limits by law their economic, religious and political activity".

A transcript of the whole lecture is available online [11].

In a lecture at Polhov Gradec, 5 June 1944 he stated that:

"With solid trust in the righteousness of the leader of Europe, of the German nation, we must calmly and with all fanaticism lead the battle against Jewish global supremacy serving Stalin’s and Tito’s bandits and their assistants, Anglo-American gangsters".[12]

An SD pamphlet entitled ‘What is Bolshevism?’ concluded with the words “ OF [the Partisans] with its bandit groups serves this Jewish Bolshevism”.[13]

At the ceremony where the Domobranci swore oaths of allegiance to Hitler, 30 January 1945 Rupnik said:

"If the German soldier and you, my bold Domobranci, allowed these Jewish mercenaries to flourish, they would yet kill all decent thinkers, believers in the nation and homeland of true Slovenian birth together with their children - or we will make cannon fodder or slaves of them, steal their property, homes, villages, devastate the national body and suppress the Jew".
"These are the nations of Europe, our broader homeland, in whose centre the largest, German nation has taken upon itself the struggle against the Jewish corruption of the world".[12][14]

Ljenko Urbančič, a central Domobranci responsible for anti-Semitic and pro-Nazi propaganda in newspapers and on radio. His themes were invariably the same: communist Jews controlled Britain and the US, who were using ‘negroes’ in their war against Hitler's New Europe. In typical style, broadcasting on Radio Ljubljana in June 1944 Urbančič said:
“All those Anglophiles – that word is actually wrong, as they are not Anglophiles, but fruitcakes – must bear in mind that our anti-Communist battle would be all in vain if we were to make such a fatal mistake and take today’s Anglo-American invasion troops for anything other than what they are, a Jewish-communist tool” .
"... it is not important that I speak to you as the youngest Slovene journalist . . . (what is important is that) the truth which is older than I, which is centuries old (be proclaimed). That is, the truth about all the vile intentions of the chosen people, the 15 million Israeli race roaming the world". He went on "We went to war for Jewish interests, for the benefit of international communism", and the responsibility rested "with those 'allies', the British, Soviets and Masons, and above all, and I stress the words above all, the Jews - sworn enemies of Christianity and all the non-Jewish world".
Later in the broadcast he concluded with a tirade against the Chinese, Indian and African troops fighting against the Reich on European soil, and then with a rallying cry to his listeners to:
“. . . follow our leader, the experienced and homeland-loving General Rupnik, about whom we can say that God himself has sent him to us . . . It is our duty to repeat over and over again, to exhaustion, that there is only one way, the way of General Rupnik”.[9][15][16]

Oaths of allegiance to Hitler

The Domobranci swore oaths of loyalty to Hitler on two occasions.

The first was on 20 April 1944, Hitler's birthday, at the Central Stadium on what is now Dunajska Cesta (Vienna Street) in Ljubljana [17]; at the stadium in Novo Mesto; at Vrhnika, as well as other places in the following days.

The Domobranstvo oath-taking ceremony at Ljubljana central stadium 20 April 1944. The bearded man in civilian clothes is Domobranci leader Leon Rupnik. To his left is Erwin Rösener.

Members of the Domobranci and the police force promised that
“I swear by almighty God that I will be loyal, brave and obedient to my superiors, that I will stand in common struggle with the German armed forces, stand under the command of the leader of Greater Germany, SS troops and police against bandits and communism and their allies; this duty I will carry out conscientiously for my Slovenian homeland as part of a free Europe. For this struggle I am also ready to sacrifice my life. So help me God!”
The oath was given orally on a sword. Every Domobranec also signed a written statement in German and Slovene that
“I have entered into the Slovensko Domobranstvo voluntarily, into the battle and the destruction of communism that has already brought sorrow to my country and endangered all of Europe. My fixed resolve with all its might is to fight under German leadership to the satisfaction of my country and Europe and to this I devote my life. I have confirmed this commitment by holy oath today. I have been informed as to my duties and rights regarding service, discipline and payment” [18].
The Domobranci were religiously 'cleansed' prior to taking the oath with a mass performed by Dr. Gregorij Rožman, Bishop of Ljubljana.

The Domobranci swore the same oaths with the same procedure on 30 January 1945, again at the Central Stadium in Ljubljana. This was the 12th anniversary of the Nazi takeover of power in Germany; the mass before the oath was this time read by the main Domobranci curate Dr Ignacij Lenček. The ceremony was followed by a parade where Leon Rupnik, Gregorij Rožman and SS General Erwin Rösener stood on a pedestal in front of the Ursuline Church saluting the Domobranci as they marched past [19].

The Western Allies had already been precisely appraised about the first Domobranci oath-taking. The Allies considered this oath an instrument via which the Domobranci were subordinated to Hitler's command and expressed readiness to fight with his army against them. Therefore, from then on Domobranci were considered to be Slovenian 'white' reactionaries with whom all diplomatic and political ties were cut.

See also

References

  1. ^ Andrej Benedejčič, Permanent Mission of Slovenia to the UN describes Historical Development of the Coat of Arms and the Flag
  2. ^ http://upload8.postimage.org/666268/domobranskazastavainhakenkrajc.jpg
  3. ^ In his speech at the ceremony where the Domobranci swore allegiance to Hitler on 20 April 1944 Rösener said
    "On 24 September 1943 I issued the command for the foundation of Slovensko domobranstvo. From the few troops of the so-called White Guard legionnaires, as per my order, Slovensko domobranstvo has grown. With the help of the Greater German Reich, we have trained, clothed and armed you. Today you have taken an oath, that you will, together with the German Army, the military SS and police fight for the freedom of all of Europe”. Slovenec newspaper, 21 April 1944. See
    http://www2.arnes.si/~ljgozzb1/javnost17.htm
    http://www.sds.si/forum/viewtopic.php?id=1460&p=2
  4. ^ Erwin Rösener giving combat medals to Domobranci: http://img266.imageshack.us/img266/5913/heimwehrrsnerri6.jpg
  5. ^ A Domobranci pamphlet (September 1944) boasted that “Strike groups of Domobranci under the leadership of brave Domobranci and German officers have, in some days of lasting battles, thoroughly ‘disintegrated’ the partisans”. See http://users.volja.net/gremlin/slike/domobranci%20v%20razkroju2.html
  6. ^ Galerija Slovenskega Domobranstva
  7. ^ In his speech at the ceremony where the Domobranci swore allegiance to Hitler on 20 April 1944 Rösener said
    "With the help of the Greater German Reich, we have trained, clothed and armed you”. Slovenec newspaper, 21 April 1944. See
    http://www2.arnes.si/~ljgozzb1/javnost17.htm
    http://www.sds.si/forum/viewtopic.php?id=1460&p=2
  8. ^ The massacre that haunts Slovenia: how Britain betrayed unarmed Slovenians to communist Partisans
  9. ^ a b Governor's Speech: Address-In-Reply - 24/09/1997 - NSW Parliament
  10. ^ A memorial to Frakelj's victims stands in the area. See
    http://td-barje.si/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=70&Itemid=144
  11. ^ ÿþ01 Poroilo skupine za spremljanje nestrpnosti / Intolerance Monitoring Group Report
  12. ^ a b ZZB-NOB Home Page
  13. ^ Galerija Slovenskega Domobranstva
  14. ^ the Slovenian
  15. ^ Jutro 29 June 1944. See http://www2.arnes.si/~ljgozzb1/javnost17.htm
  16. ^ Ardent Nazi took Liberal to extremes - Obituaries - smh.com.au
  17. ^ Photos from the Domobranci oath-taking ceremony in Ljubljana, 20 April 1944:
    Domobranci leader Leon Rupnik stands to attention; to his left is SS General Erwin Rösener:
    http://www.muzej-nz.si/images/fototeka/fototeka_ga13.jpg
    Rupnik, Rösener and Bishop Rožman chatting before the ceremony:
    http://www.mladina.si/tednik/200417/clanek/slo--politika-ursa_matos/img/domobrani_rupnik_rozman.html-l2.
    Rupnik at the ceremony; Rösener, head bowed, to his left: http://i171.photobucket.com/albums/u305/kamen88/81eeb5c7.jpg
  18. ^ Slovenec newspaper, 21 April 1944. See also
    http://www2.arnes.si/~ljgozzb1/javnost17.htm
    Janez Peršič "Domobransko oaths of 20 April 1944, contributions behind the history of the workers’ movement", 1-2, 1973, pages 211, 212, 213, 214 and 227;
    http://www.safaric-safaric.si/knjige/Veliki%20finale%20na%20Koroskem.htm
  19. ^ Three photos of Rupnik, Rožman and Rösener on the stand in front of the Ursuline Church in Ljubljana after the Domobranci oath-taking ceremony on 30 January 1945:
    http://www.250kb.de/u/060426/j/efb134ec.jpg
    http://www.delo.si/inc.zoom.php?ppID=188530&target=1
    http://www.mladina.si/tednik/200742/clanek/slo-tema--borut_mekina/img/tema-prisega.html-l2
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