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- September 6, 2012 at 4:43 pm #343962
AnonymousSlovenian volunteers in the Serbian Army,
In the 19th century, the Slovenian resistance against the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy was organised and led in various ways. Italian desires for Slovenian ethnic territory only worsened. During the resistance, Slovenian writers and high-school and university students were the ones that left the deepest trace in the national memory. The Sokol Organisations, mainly the associations in Ljubljana, Maribor in Gorica, were represented by schools in which young Slovenian intellectuals cultivated national consciousness and prepared themselves for actions intended to weaken and destroy the Austro-Hungarian tyranny. The members of the Sokol Organisation, from the mentioned associations, were the first volunteers to join the Serbian Army. They were young men, inspired by national pride and above all well acquainted with the state of spirit in the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy as well as with the problems of Serbia and Montenegro in their sacred battle for the liberation
from the Turkish yoke and tyranny. Due to the latter, the Austro-Hungarian national and police authorities suspected that the Slovenian Sokol Organisation was a resistant and revolutionary organisation. All Sokol associations were dissolved. A part of their members were drafted to the army, while a smaller part was isolated or interned in other parts of the country. All other members were under police supervision. It is a historical fact that the Ljubljana Sokol Organisation members were those who expressed the boldest views on democratic rights and the liberty of all nations in the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. It is therefore not surprising that the Ljubljana Sokol Organisation presented that part of the Austro-Hungarian Army that was feared the most by that same army. As they joined the Serbian volunteers they were believed to had been the most trained soldiers and, at the same time, the most self-sacrificing and courageous fighters. The example of the Ljubljana Sokol Organisation is the proof; as many as ten members became volunteers in the Yugoslavian Division, which initiated a fight at the Macedonian Front with the intent to realise the establishment of Yugoslavia. At the beginning of the Balkan War, in 1912, the Maribor Sokol Organisation members were thefirst to leave for Serbia as volunteers. Bruno Vajksl, a medical student and dr. Ivan Oražen, a doctor were among them. Soon after, Dr. Mirko Černič, who worked as a doctor in Niš, joined them. Medical student, Adolf Kristl, who was the first Slovenian volunteer and a doctor of the Serbian Army, to be killed in action, was also a member of the Maribor Sokol Organisation. Dr. Ljudevit Pivko, a Sokol Organisation member also came from Maribor. He went down in Slovenian history as a fighter against the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, when he joined the Italian side at the Isonzo Front as an Austro-Hungarian officer and organised a Yugoslavian Volunteer Battalion, which comprised approximately 1,000 officers and soldiers. In that same battalion, there were 130 Slovenians, 16 of which were members of the Sokol Organisation. Reserve Lieutenant Stane Vidmar was one of them. Desertment or an arbitrary abandonment of the Austro-Hungarian Army was severely punished. The decision to join the opposite side or the volunteers was considered as high treason, punished by death. Not only were those who left the Austro-Hungarian Army considered traitors, but all members of their immediate and wider family and the inhabitants of their entire village were held accountable for desertment. There are many examples of prosecution and sentences of death as well as executions, imprisonments and police surveillance known to the public. The most known example is the declaration of death sentence given to engineer Ivan Gosar in Beograd in 1917, who was a Lieutenant of the Serbian Army, a Sokol Organisation member and an inhabitant of Škofja Loka. Considering the above mentioned, entry to the volunteers was a bold, brave and a patriotic act. With intent to protect their relatives or those close to, some have even changed their names. Hence a young woman from Maribor, Antonija Javornik, changed her name to Natalija Bjelajac. She was the first and bravest volunteer in the Serbian Army. She suffered 12 wounds and received 12 prestigious awards. She died in Beograd, where she was buried as Sergeant of the Serbian Army. The volunteers were not classic war heroes. They were more than heroes, for they possessed not only personal courage, but were conscious of the importance of their acts from a folk and national prospective.[table]
[/table]Slovenian volunteers in the Balkan Wars, 1912-1913
During the First Balkan War the first Slovenian volunteers in the Serbian Army were doctors who rushed to Serbia, Montenegro and Bulgaria for humanitarian reasons. There were 24 of them, out of which 19 were reserve officers (17 doctors and 2 medical students), one a female non-commissioned officer and 4 soldiers. A special Red Cross committee, which was founded in Ljubljana for that same purpose, organised the health and medical care. During the first phase, the following Slovenian doctors joined the Serbian Army as volunteers: Dr. Ivan Oražen, Edo Šlajmer, Professor Dr. Edo Krajec, Dr. Fedransperg and Dr. E. F. Šabec. Doctors of medicine Dr. Josip Stojc and Dr. Josip Tičar headed to Montenegro at the same time. In the second phase, in November 1912, Dr. Gaber Hočevar went to Beograd. He first became a member of the medical department at the Serbian War Ministry and then went to Bulgaria where he organised a military field hospital for 300 wounded in Bratina, near Sofia. Together with doctors the following individuals rushed to Serbia and joined the Serbian Army as volunteers: Ivan Furlanič, a lawyer from Koper and a member of the Slovenski Jug (Slovenian South) newspaper editorial office, Dr. Gašper Pekle, attorney-at-law from Ljubljana and a member of the Slovenski Jug (Slovenian South) newspaper editorial office. Miha Čop from Ljubljana went to Montenegro where he fought in the first independent Volunteer Battalion of the Army of Montenegro in 1912. As a first active member of the Austro-Hungarian Army, Lieutenant Martin Javornik from Maribor, who had been last in service in Bosnia and Herzegovina, deserted and joined the Serbian Army. As an active Captain of the Serbian Army he participated in both Balkan Wars. When he fell bravely in August 1914, at the beginning of the Battle of Cer, he was a Company Commander. His niece, a young high-school student from Maribor, Antonija Javornik, followed his example, and joined the Serbian volunteers. She participated in both Balkan Wars and in the First World War. In order to protect her family in Maribor, she changed her name into Natalija Bjelajac. As a fighter and as a nurse she participated in the tragic retreat of the Serbian Army across Albania and in the victorious breakthrough of the Macedonian Front. She was wounded 12 times and received as many awards; of course she also received the highest Serbian military award – the Karađorđe’s Star with Swords. She died, almost forgotten, in Beograd. The only thing written on her gravestone is: Here lies Natalija Bjelajac, Sergeant of the Serbian Army. Thinking of her example I have come to realize that the arrangement and protection of military graves, tombs and cemeteris, where lie the Slovenian volunteers in the Serbian Army as well as Slovenian partisans, who fought and fell in Serbia between 1941 – 1945, would have to be organised. This is the least that a country can do. Of course, Serbian debt to Slovenian volunteers is far greater. It was indeed partly paid back by a hos-pitable reception of Slovenian expatriates in 1941, as well as with the victims of the Serbian partisans in the final battles for the liberation of Yugoslavia. However, we must preserve a lasting memory of Slovenian volunteers, for it was them who were the first to help the Serbian Army and the Serbian nation in the most difficult times in their history.
Slovenian volunteers in the Serbian Army,
Slovenian volunteers in the Serbian Army from 1914 to 1918 were methodologically divided into periods that were most characteristic of the then overall military and political situation. These were, at the same time, periods with which individuals identified themselves the most or which were remembered the most (e.g. participation in the Battle of Cer, tragic destinies of the retreat across Albania, Russian prisoner camps and canvassing for recruitment to the Serbian volunteers, travel across Siberia and a boat voyage from Vladivostok to Thessaloniki, the breakthrough of the Macedonian Front and similar). The periods are as follows:
• Successful defence of the Serbian Army (the Battle of Cer and the Battle of Kolubara), 1914-1915.
• Predominance of the Austrian and the German Army – retreat of the Serbian Army across Albania
to the island Krf, 1915-1916.
• Establishment of the Serbian Volunteer Corps in Odessa, Ukraine (in the 19th century Odessa was a part of Russia), 1916-1917.
• Establishment of the Matija Gubec Yugoslavian Volunteer Regiment in Tomsk, Russia and return to the homeland, 1916-1920.
• Establishment of Captain Pivko’s Yugoslavian Volunteer Battalion in Italy in 1918 and return to the
• Establishment of the Yugoslavian Volunteer Division in the Italian prisoner camp Nocera Umbra,
Italy, 1918, and transfer to the Macedonian Front.
• Recruitment of Slovenian expatriates – volunteers in the Serbian Army from 1912 to 1918 and trans-
fer to the Macedonian Front.
• Overview of Slovenian volunteers in the Serbian Army at the Macedonian Front, 1917-1918.
• Participation of Slovenian volunteers in the Serbian Army in the Battle for Carinthia, 1918-1919.
There were 567 identified Slovenian volunteers in the Serbian Army; perhaps even more.September 9, 2012 at 1:35 am #394866
Great find! Its very nice to see a Slovenian perspective on those wars. Also your source is just lovely, one side on Slovenian and one on English, its going strait to my collection. Thx!
tSeptember 15, 2012 at 9:53 pm #394867
Very interesting indeed! Amazing to read about all that as in Slovenia you don't really learn about this that much.
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