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Inspiration for the project- My Father’s Land

All my life, my family have been aware of a dark shadow over my father. His childhood and the time before he met our mother, was a subject he would not talk about. We knew very little, he was a refugee after the second world war and could never return to Slovenia (formerly Yugoslavia). He was a child during the war and had fought from the age of 15 to nearly 18. We knew that he had fought the Communists and so had been an ally of the Germans, that he had fought to defend his religion as a Roman Catholic and had wanted to be a priest. We knew he had been sent back to Yugoslavia by the British after the war, to his death, and had escaped.

My dad just wouldn’t tell us what happened. or anything about the complexity of the situation in Yugoslavia at that time. My Father is now quite ill and facing death. I have been moved by this and the plight of the refugees fleeing Syria, and the threat of ISIS. This has prompted me to try to find out what happened all those years ago. I want to know what happened to make him the man he is today. The man I want to remember.

I have just started looking at this subject and getting my dad to talk, but it is still very painful for him. Interestingly it seems that there are very few people who really want to talk about those times, that many of those surviving have consistently refused to talk about it. Only a few have dared. My investigations have shocked me, as it appears it was a time of war crimes, which some describe as genocide. The British army were complicit in it. Knowingly sending the refugees back to their deaths. Over 100,000 people were killed.

I want to explore the idea of being on the wrong side. These acts were horrific and inhumane but apparently there was little sympathy because the Communists were on the winning side. Yugoslavia was being invaded by the Communists, the Italians, the Hungarians and the Germans. They all wanted the land. My father was in the Home guard defending the country from them all, but mainly from the Communists who had murdered children in their beds while asleep. His best friend had been one of them. That was when he took up arms at 15.  “To save my life” The communists had originally been allies of the Germans then switched. The Germans gave the home guard their weapons to fight them.

There are over 600 death pits in Slovenia alone. The British have never apologised for sending the refugees who had surrendered to them, to their deaths and very few people know that the British had done this. The British lied to get the Yugoslavs on to the cattle trains, then padlocked the doors and handed them over to the Partisans (Yugoslav Communists).

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