Projekt Izgubljene kočevarske vasi

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  • Project: The Lost Villages of the Gotschee Germans

    The Lost villages of the Gotschee Germans is an interactive multimedia project by Center for mladinsko kulturo Kočevje (Centre for The Culture of Youth in Kočevje). Answerable for a cultural heritage we researched, responsible for a local history we documented what otherwise would be probably gone with the wind. You are looking at the part of project, which handles 12 villages of the Gotschee Germans. It marks them with signs and puts them on a map. The villages are furthermore presented by movies at the middle of the 14th century until 1942, a German- speaking area of approximately 800 sq km in size was part of the Kočevsko region. During the Nazi occupation, Germans living in various European countries were massively migrated back to the German Reich by the Nazi government. After the Italians had occupied the Kočevsko region in 1941, a small German-speaking community of about 12,000 people had to migrate as well. The Gottscheer Germans were appointed the area along the Sava and the Sotla rivers in the Lower Štajersko region, from which the most Slovenians had been exiled. After WW2, the destiny of the Gottscheer Germans was similar to that of  other German-speaking communities in Slovenia. Those who did not leave with the German army at the end of the war and those few who remained in the Kočevsko region were exiled to Austria by the new Yugoslav government. Later, they dispersed and settled in various parts of Austria and Germany; many moved to the Unites States of America. 

    The exile of the Gottscheer Germans, post-war devastation and decay, and well-planned destruction of mostly sacral buildings in the 1950s had a fatal long-term effect on the area. More than one half of 176 villages in the Kočevsko region were destroyed: the area is now covered with woods. Only 28 out of 123 churches have been preserved, and out of approximately 400 chapels and religious signs about 40 can still be found. Many cemeteries were either levelled with the ground or the German tombstones were removed. Apart from the changes in the national structure, the economic and proprietorial situation of the area was profoundly changed. The Karstic soil and the densely wooded area of the Kočevski Rog with its deep abysses witnessed mass killings of several thousands of Slovenian soldiers opposing the National Front, who were returned to Slovenia after they had tried to emigrate. The extensive region was later closed to the public and a number of penal and work camps were set up. Very few remnants are left to this day to witness the 600-year- long presence of the German national community amidst the Slovenian territory. The plaques present the images of the once vibrant villages, countryside and its people, who shaped the Kočevsko region over the centuries. Author: dr. Mitja Ferenc


  • O projektu "Izgubljene kočevarske vasi"

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The experts claim that a Slovenian word Dranc originates from the German words Gedränge, Bedrängnis, and from the German expression: “ist der Ort, wo der Wald verdrängt wurde ” - meaning a space, where the grounds are cultivated. I. Simonič, a historian, believes that it is about the settlement, which bore a German locality name, as it was founded by joint efforts of the Germans and the Slovenians.  

In the Kočevje Registry Book from 1574 the villages Verderb and Verdreng are mentioned together. Their estates (called huba) were divided into 11 halfway farms for 12 landlords. Supposingly, the estates provided living for 45 - 55 people. In the Franciscan Cadastral Register from 1824 Verdreng is registered as 16 houses. They were standing around a square empty space in the middle, next to a way passing The Church of St. John the Baptist, close to a water hole. The inhabitants were farmers, making their living by stockbreeding and peddling. They were not well-off, so their homes were relatively poor. 

A school was founded in 1893. The teaching was only in German until 1919, but later on also in Slovenian. The school was visited by the children from  Verdreng, Verderb, Turkova Draga and Zgornji Pokštajn. In 1908 the villagers of Verdrenk founded a fire brigade, but then a section of the Red Cross and the Adriatic Watch were there already. The Lexicon of Dravska banovina describes this settlement as an excursion destination for the Gottschee Germans. Most probably going on a pilgrimage to Verdrenška gora contributed. 

The village belonged to the municipality and the parish of Mozelj. It had the greatest number of inhabitants in 1910 - 101. 13 of them were Slovenians. During the last census of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia (1931) there were 91 inhabitants and 17 houses. The German inhabitants left the village on December 18th, 1941. 78 Germans from 17 houses departed, taking a train from a railway station Stara Cerkev. The settlement was almost empty. During the war it was burnt down by Italian soldiers, so there remained only four houses suitable for living at the end of war. They were populated with 21 people. 

Soon after the war, a penal colony for the prisoners condemned on the political grounds was arranged in this lonely valley. At first just for the women. They dwelled in the edifices south and west of a former school. Later on they were stirred up to Škofja Loka. Back here, the larger edifices were put in order and this became a village of men - prisoners and guards only. The penal colony had a head office at the former school between 1949 and 1953. Approx. 1953 the entire colony was dismissed.  

In 1955 the village was renamed and became Podlesje. It was also united with the neighbouring villages: Lapinje, Spodnji and Zgornji Pokštajn, as well with Verderb. Today there are some holiday cottages in Verdreng, along with the preserved building of former school.  

A subsidiary church of St. John the Baptist was erected during the first quarter of 16th century next to a cart track, which led through the middle of village. On September 8th, 1771, a new one (the baroque style) at the same spot was consecrated. It was constructed characteristically for this region: with one nave and a small presbytery, out of stone, with a ridged roof directly above the presbytery. There was a statue of St. John the Baptist at an altar from 1784(?5). The church got a new image after they built a belfry in 1866. Three bells were hanging in it – the two larger ones were taken by the World War I, but the third one remained. Namely, a priest from Zdihovo buried it into the grounds, before all inhabitants of the village were forced to leave. They got the bell out of soil in 1991 to be transported to Fara. The church itself was severely damaged during the World War II. After this war, it was used as a kitchen for prisoners, but soon it was pulled down and entirely removed. 

A graveyard was northwest from the settlement, approx. 200 m away from the core of village, at left hand side of the road to Rajndol. The tombstones and walls were removed after the World War II and the grounds were evened. One can still notice the foundation of walls in the meadow, hidden beneath a sod. 

Once there stood a smaller chapel of The Virgin Mary on the Hill, at the peak of Verderbška gora, designed for the pilgrimages. Now it would be close to a TV antenna. It was built in 1636. Soon after the World War II the area of Verdreng became part of a greater zone (200 km2) with restricted approach. This restricted zone was the scene of massive demolition of churches in 1950s; among them was also the chapel at Verderbška gora. Again, the bell (orig. 1642) from chapel was buried by the priest from Zdihovo, brought to daylight in 1991 and given to Pokrajinski muzej Kočevje to become part of an exhibition on the destiny of cultural heritage of Gottschee Germans. 

Predstavitev vasi v besedi in sliki

  • All
  • Borovec Pri Kočevki Reki
  • Czmk
  • GLAŽUTA, Karlshütten, Gloschhittn
  • INLAUF, Inlauf, Inlaf
  • Izgubljene Kočevarske Vasi
  • JELENDOL, Hirisgruben
  • KUKOVO, Rapljevo, Kukundorf, Kukndoarf
  • Mitja Ferenc
  • Morobitz
  • Mröbitz
  • Nemška Loka, Unterdeutschau, Agə
  • ONEK, Honegg, Wrneggə
  • RAJHENAV, Reichenau, Reichenagə
  • Rajndol, Reintal, Reintol
  • Tvkocevje
  • VERDRENG Podlesje, Verdreng, Vərdreng