These photos were taken on the eve of All Saints’ day 2015 in Žale cemetery, Ljubljana. The tradition is to spend two nights honouring the dead. All the cemeteries are lit up from the candles. These photos are taken of the remembrances from the civil war and Second World War in Yugoslavia. The first is for the Domobranci (Home Guard or White Guard), they lost to the Communists and thousands were executed after the war ended, buried in hidden mass graves around the country. (There are over 600 sites of mass burial in Slovenia alone). There is a lot of controversy that the executed have never had a proper burial, that relatives of the deceased don’t know where their loved ones are buried, there aren’t even accurate numbers of how many died. The list of names of the executed have disappeared. This tree is the second one that has been planted, as the first one was chopped down by Communist supporters. The second photo is of the large section of the main cemetery reserved for those Italian soldiers who died during the Italian occupation of Ljubljana, each soldier is named. It strikes me as sad that the Italians are granted a place, but there is controversy about the burial of the Domobranci. The Italian section has very few candles now, but the space for the Domobranci is as alive with candles as the rest of the cemetery.
The translation of the inscribed words in the photo, are in my interpretation, talking about the need to acknowledge a proper burial of the dead and how this is the first step towards reconciliation.
I will be returning to Slovenia for All Saints’ day this year to take better, sharper photos and explore other ideas around the burial of the dead.