Slovenia‘s history has much to fascinate visitors, not least of which includes the awe-inspiring secret Franja Partisan Hospital, one of the country’s most visited sites. Built in World War II by the resistance movement in the far reaches of the country, today it still stands and welcomes people from around the world. Here’s everything you need to know about this extraordinary monument from Slovenia’s past.
During World War II, the Slovenian resistance movement built secret hidden hospitals across the territory of Slovenia. Out of more than twenty hospitals that were operating, Franja Partisan Hospital was the most equipped. Nowadays, it is an important monument to both the courageous altruistic staff and the local people who helped to save lives during that dark period of history.
The hospitals were a particularity of the Slovenian resistance movement, and hidden in hard to reach areas in the woods, in gorges, or in underground caves. Franja Partisan Hospital was built in Pasice, a hard-to-reach gorge near the village of Novaki (close to Cerkno). In the less than two years that it was open, almost six hundred wounded men and women were treated there.
Staying hidden from the enemy was of the utmost importance to keep the hospital safe. The secret location was not enough to guarantee the security of Franja Partisan Hospital, therefore its entrance was hidden, and the building could only be reached by retractable bridges. For added security, machine guns and mines were also used to protect the hospital.
To make sure that the former patients did not reveal its location, the incoming wounded were blindfolded by staff on the way to the hospital. According headstones to those who died in Franja Partisan Hospital was also thought to compromise its safety, and so the dead were buried without them. Instead, staff placed a sealed bottle containing personal information next to the body in the grave, ensuring that families were able to locate their deceased after the war was over.
After the war, Franja Partisan Hospital became a symbol of the extensive and extremely well-organized medical activities of the Partisan movement. It was opened to the public, and to this day remains one of the most visited monuments in Slovenia.
Unfortunately, in 2007, twelve out of the fourteen hospital cabins were destroyed in a severe flood. It took three long years, but Franja Partisan Hospital was reconstructed almost in its entirety thanks to old drawings and documents available, meaning that the ‘new’ Franja Partisan Hospital is an almost exact replica of the one built in 1943. Once rebuilt, the hospital re-opened its doors to the public again in 2010.