I was recently back in Slovenia, doing more research about the war and trying to start some photography. We used to come here regularly as a family when we were young and when it was Communist Yugoslavia. My father used to stay behind in Austria. I’ve tried to learn Slovenian a few times and have now started an evening course to learn it properly. Yet I am quite ignorant of the history of the country, the customs and obviously the psyche. I’ve been doing a lot of research but am very heavily influenced by the feelings of my father. The interviews with him have shocked me, so have some of my visits, where I am seeing some things with an outsiders point of view. Because I am influenced by my father’s views I am finding it hard to take a balanced view of the country. I find it hard not to find myself crying when I visit the sites of the mass burials. Yet I haven’t done that when I’ve visited similar sites in other countries. I have a personal connection with Slovenia. I am, after all, half Slovenian.
My relatives must find it a little odd, that when I visit, at this time in my life, all I want to do is visit the graveyards, mass burial sites and the routes the refugees took when fleeing. They know it’s because of my project and have been incredibly supportive, but I haven’t been very good at explaining why I’m doing this. It doesn’t help that I’m very much in the research phase and so am not entirely sure of where my research will take me. Who knows what the local Catholic priest thought when, after answering his questions on Brexit, I launched into a discussion on the mass executions after the second world war and his views on why the Catholic church forgave Tito. They’ve lived with the aftermath of the war for a long time, but for me, I’m just beginning to find out about it. I just hope that my Slovenian family will continue to tolerate this odd relative they have.