At the end of May 1945, 12,000 Slovenian soldiers boarded trains in Austria. They thought they were on their way to freedom in Italy. Their true destination was Slovenia, and death. One of the most moving and tragic diaspora stories of World War II, Slovenia 1945 follows the fate of a strongly Catholic and non-Communist community in Slovenia - including members of the anti-Communist Home Guard 'domobranci' - caught up in the maelstrom of war and politics in the Balkans in World War II and the problems of post-war settlement. Thousands of soldiers returned to face death and exile at the hands of their war-time enemies - Tito's Partisans - who had triumphed by the war's end. Six thousand more civilians narrowly escaped the same fate, after the intervention of Red Cross and Quaker aid workers. Yet the story of exile is also one of triumph as the surviving refugees built new lives in Argentina, the USA, Canada and Britain. In this unique book, the authors call on more than half a century of research and an unsurpassed knowledge of the Slovene migrant communities around the world to tell their stories. For the first time, the survivors tell their vivid tales of wartime cruelty, of reviving their battered community in refugee camps, and of their emigration to Argentina, the US, Canada and Britain building successful new lives through courage, self-help and strong cultural identity. Slovenia 1945 is a vivid, personal and deeply moving story of an episode that marked all those involved indelibly.
Memories of Death and Survival After World War II