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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Looking into The Franciscan Cadastral Register from 1824, one sees mostly wooden residential houses along the eastern side of road. The land was divided into narrow, but regular parts, so the buildings were close one next to the other, showing the shortest side to the road. Behind the residential houses were lines of the farming edifices, orchards, cultivated fields, pastures and woods. The farmers had the parcels of farmland also at the other side of road. 

Until 1880 the number of villagers was growing, so in 19 houses 131 people were living then. But, like other villages all over the Kočevje Region, people were leaving Vrbovec to get their living on the other side of Atlantic Sea. In 1910 23 houses had only 77 inhabitants left. A trend of emigration continued in the following decade. The last official census in The Royal Yugoslavia (1931) recorded only 57 inhabitants. Eight of 21 houses remained empty and one was ruined. With few exceptions, just the Gottschee Germans were living in the village. Among 1880 and 1910, the Austrian censuses counted two or nine »Slovenians«. The Yugoslavian census in 1921 counted only one and later on here was no person of Slovenian origin anymore.

The majority of population made living by farming and foresting as well as by hawking – the typical activity of the Gottschees. In the village, there were two fairs each year. But the progress of the village was obstructed by deficit of water resources. The villagers collectively got the water from a modest reservoir – a cask. 

A school and a parish church were at Polom (3 km away), along with a graveyard. There, two tombstones are preserved: one for Alois Hönigman from Vrbovec No. 11 and the other for Johann Hönigman from Vrbovec No. 10. The village belonged to the Municipality Polom until 1933. After the small municipalities’ uniting, it belonged to Stari Log (11 km away). 

After the occupation, in 1941 the entire Kočevje Region became part of The Royal Italy, which made inhabitants of Vrbovec and other villages of the Gottschee Germans disappointed, as they wanted to live inside the German Reich. So they left the Kočevje Region in the winter of 1941 to live next to Sava- and Sotla river (Lower Styria), as the area there should become a part of German state. On 2. 12. 1941 53 people left 12 houses in Vrbovec. 

After they departed, the village remained empty and after the end of war all 16 houses were not suitable for use. The land became property of the state, as it was confiscated. After the war, occasionally there were up to three families, but after 1981 there was nobody in the village anymore. In the last two decades, Vrbovec is revived as a holiday settlement. 

The Church of St Mary of the Snow and The Chapel of St Thomas

It is assumed that The Church of St Mary of the Snow was built soon after the formation of Vrbovec (in the middle of 16th century) as a subsidiary church. But the building, which was preserved until World War II, was probably erected a century later. It was mentioned by the name Maria Hülff in Tiefenthal by Valvasor in 1689. According to a legend, the villagers raised the church to honour St Mary after it was snowing during one summer. 

The church was a destination for pilgrimages. During the second quarter of the 18th century it was enlarged and redesigned in the baroque manner. A ground plan shows a square nave and a three-sided presbytery. 

After World War II the sanctuary was not used anymore and it slowly decayed. The church was pulled down in 1951. The new settlers have cleared the location of church, so one can see its’ ground plan again. 

The Chapel of St Thomas was built next to a road to Mala Gora, approx. 2 km away from the village. One can still see two pillars and a part of wall. 

The archaeologists and speleologists jointly explored Vrbovška- or Popisana jama (the later meaning “written-all-over”) – a Carts cave, lying approx. 1,5 km southern of the village. They found traces of a pre-historical settlement.

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