More victims of communist genocide finally found.
After digging for two hours in a chilly forest clearing, the workers had their evidence: bones and the soil-covered, blackened remnant of a shoe confirmed that this was a secret mass grave from World War II. In the trees a short distance from where the diggers worked, an elderly man looked on. He would not give his name, but said he was at the same spot when he was 16, one morning in 1945, after he heard shouting in the night.
The Lancovo grave is one target of a Slovenian government program to help people come to terms with a hidden legacy of unprecedented slaughter during the war. So far, 540 such sites have been registered across Slovenia. They are believed to hold up to 100,000 bodies. The killings that took place here have no comparison in Europe. In two months after the war, more people were killed here than in the four years of war, said Joze Dezman, a historian who heads the committee for registering hidden graves. "Srebrenica is like an innocent case compared to that," he said, referring to the Bosnia Serb Army's killing in 1995 of about 8,000 displaced Muslim civilians in Bosnia, their corpses bulldozed into the earth.
Those killed in Slovenia were mostly soldiers who collaborated with the Nazis. Most were slain in the woods without trial. They were victims of a vengeful killing spree by partisans of the Yugoslav leader after British-led Allied troops turned them back from Austria and handed them over. Slovenia, now a European Union country of two million people, declared independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, but the graves remained a public secret until excavations in recent years. These killings took place in Slovenia because this is where the war was ending: this is where the Iron Curtain was anticipated, this is where refugees found themselves at the end of the war," Dezman said.
The graves' existence has been quietly known for decades, but some elderly people are still too afraid of reprisals to speak about them. In Lancovo, the anonymous onlooker shared a distant memory of what he saw as a youth. "There was blood and remnants of burnt clothes," he said. "Blood was flowing all over. They were not shot. They were beaten up."
Mitja Ferenc, chief historian in charge of grave research, said Yugoslavia's communist authorities persistently refused to acknowledge that the killings had taken place and refused to tell relatives where the bodies were buried. For almost 50 years, people were not allowed to visit the graves. Many of them were destroyed by deliberate explosions or covered by waste. In some places, like Celje, about 60 kilometers, or 37 miles, east of Ljubljana, parts of towns were built on them. However, local knowledge persisted: farmers did not allow their livestock to graze in their vicinity. Dezman said that only medical students sometimes visited the sites, when they needed skulls or bones for their studies.
"People who come to me are still afraid someone will see them talking to me. They have fear in their bones," Dezman said. Although the graves were known to exist, their number was unknown.
"Only after we started researching the first graves did we realize how many secret graves there were, as people started to open up, calling us and telling us of locations they knew of," Ferenc said. In August, Slovenian researchers confirmed there were at least 15,000 victims in a secret mass grave in Tezno, about 120 kilometers northeast of Ljubljana, where mostly Croat and Montenegrin soldiers were slain and buried.
Registrations of secret mass grave locations have grown from 40 in 2002. "It is high time to acknowledge these graves - after all, more than 60 years have passed since the Second World War," said Lado Erzen, the local community's representative for secret graves at Lancovo.
Slovenians account for about a fifth of all victims but, so far none of the killers have been brought to trial.
Just like the millions of Germans and Russians handed over by the 'allies' to the communists to be butchered these Slovenians are just one more example of the countless numbers from all European nations who fought to halt the advance of communism during WWII that were ultimately betrayed by The British and Americans. Of course, had the victims been jews it would be a very different story.