Večen bo na vas spomin - Manica Koman, 1915
Source: Map and Pictorial Collections, National and University Library

Remembering World War I and learning from it

The First World War was supposedly ‘the war to end all wars’, but proved immensely ruthless. It not only affected the soldiers on the front lines, but also took an enormous toll on the lives of civilians, as it turned out to be a total war, deeply affecting civilians, their habits and everyday life. 

One hundred years on, looking at the great events of the Great War offers new challenges, particularly a chance to re-evaluate responses to the war, and to fully present events and phenomena connected to it. More...

Slovenes and World War I in Observatoire du Centenaire

I. Introduction: Slovenes in World War I

One of the most outstanding Slovenian writers Ivan Cankar named in 1917 the period he had been living in as the years of horror, that brought about moral depravity, many deaths, unspeakable suffering, but perhaps also hope and redemption. He might had anticipated that the processes and events triggered by the war would put the old world to an end and that the war's end would reinforce the need to rethink the values that would determine the future of the world. 

The first World War, a significant turning point in behaviour, sentiment, an enormous cultural and not merely military event, the inducer of changes of the political map of Europe, national relations, horizons of science and technology, and of individual and collective way of comprehension of the world and events, is for the Slovenes and the history of Slovene ethnic territory undoubtedly a turning point. The Slovenes took part in different stages of the world encounter; they were soldiers, captives, deserters, prisoners of war, rebels, internees, refugees, the occupied and occupying force and above all, one of the most sanguinary battlefields of Europe – the Soča (It.: Isonzo), had taken place on Slovene territory. More

Boštjan Lajovic, Director of the Government Communication Office, Photo: UKOM archives

Slovenians and the First World War

It was in these spring days, exactly a hundred years ago, that a young student was preparing for a fatal act, which in a decisive and irreversible way marked his life as well as Europe and indeed the whole world. This was the 19-year-old Serbian student Gavrilo Princip, who on 28 June 1914 assassinated Franz Ferdinand, Austrian heir to the throne, and thereby triggered the First World War.

The Great War, as it is properly called by historians, devastated and changed Europe, its countries, political systems and people. It also had terrible implications for the Slovenians, who lived within the borders of the then Austro-Hungarian Empire. Demographers estimate that the Slovenian population of 1.3 million people at that time lost between 40,000 and 50,000 human lives in WW1. Yet another blow came after the war: the Paris Peace Conference assigned to Italy the coastal part of the Slovenian ethnic territory, and together with it a population of 300,000 Slovenians. In this way our nation was divided among Yugoslavia, Italy, Austria and Hungary.