“..and now we are speechless among cast off things.” “..in zdaj smo brez besed med zavrženimi stvarmi”

Translation-“Illegal dumping of rubbish in the countryside is forbidden”. Graffiti says- “But the dumping of bodies?”

The quote in the title has been taken from a poem by Jože Snoj, see later for full reference to the poem. The poem is about a rubbish dump, but I think these words sum up the subject of my photograph.

The photograph was taken in Teharje, Slovenia. This is the site where many bodies are buried, including the best friend and neighbour of my father. This site has now been turned into a rubbish dump.  The sign forbids the unauthorised dumping of rubbish in the countryside and the graffiti says words to the effect- but people can be dumped?.

They were killed here in the summer of 1945 after the end of the war. After arriving at the concentration camp that used to stand there, they were grouped into three categories: under 18, over 18 and in the home guard,  over 18 and not in the home guard. The interrogations were to determine age and if they were in the Home Guard. Some were subjected to a trial, mostly consisting of someone pointing them out as traitors, then being assessed. The majority died without trials. Generally, only the under 18’s survived, but many of those were killed too. My Dad (17) was pointed out by a neighbour  as a Nazi collaborator and should have also died as a result, but the Officer in charge looked at his papers and decided not to kill him. Had he not been spared, he might also have been buried here. My Dad does not consider himself a Nazi collaborator and says his friend who was killed was a civilian and had not done anything. Dad says he was in the Home Guard to save his life.

Whatever the justification of massacring prisoners of war without trial. I find it shocking that the site is now being used as a rubbish dump. However, it does make me ask the question, what does one do with a mass grave, if you want it hidden? What on earth can the land be used for afterwards? Another use nearby of one of the mass graves is a golf course. I will be returning to photograph these sites more carefully, with the intention of making an art intervention there.

Title of poem,  Repatica nad Smetiščem, or Comet above the dump,  by Jože Snoj, published by Miš in the book, “In cel boš, podoben otoku”, or “And you shall be whole, like an island”
Jože Snoj has written many poems covering the events after the war, some about the Domobranci and others about the Partisans. His poem may be about the buried or it may not be, but I like those words as a title.

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