Merry Christmas and all the best in 2014 to all readers of THE SLOVENIAN

To the Editor and the readers of The Slovenian –

Jelena and I would like to wish you and your families joys of the season and a safe and prosperous New Year!

Alfred Brežnik AM

Dragi prijatelji, bralke in bralci Sloveniana! 

"Življenje ni potica", pravi moj prijatelj, in res nas marsikdaj marsikaj temeljito preseneti, navadno seveda ravno takrat, ko to najmanj pričakujemo ali si želimo. 
Da bi bili vaši božični prazniki polni topline v srcih, pa tudi slovenske potice na prazničnih mizah, da bi bilo v letu 2014 čim manj slabih trenutkov in negativnih presenečenj in da bi ob Dnevu slovenske samostojnosti, ki ga praznujemo 26. decembra, kljub vsem njenim težavam Slovenijo imeli radi in začutili, da ste del nje, da ste njeni ljudje! 

Zvone Žigon

Urad za Slovence po svetu 


Santa and Martha Magajna

Merry  Christmas  and  a happy, healthy  and prosperous  New Year  2014  to you, Metka and  all my friends of all nations  wish you   

Martha   and Louis  Magajna
HASA NSW, Sydney


Dragi prijatelji,

Vse v kar upate, naj se izpolni,
Kar iščete, naj se odkrije,
Kar si zaželite, naj se uresniči!




This Christmas is a wonderful opportunity to revive lost relationships and to seek the best in others.  
Merry Christmas to all,

Natasa Shelley
Australia Needs You, Sunshine Coast


Health, goodwill and lots of tolerance to all  my friends and foes for a better tomorrow. God bless you all! 
Pozdrav in najboljse zelje,
Maria Grosman, Slovenian Club Newcastle


I wish you all a Happy Merry  Christmas and Happy and Healthy New Year.

Nick Krajc
Rosewood Homes, Sydney


Prijatelji in prijateljice,

naj vam Božična noč pokloni mir, upanje, ljubezen, zdravje, srečo in veselje - naj vas spremljajo tudi v Novem letu

Draga Gelt, Melbourne


Hi All,
May Christmas and a New Year 2014, bring you lots of health and happiness and may you have a safe and peaceful journey throughout the coming new year. Regards and best wishes, 

Joe Ramuta, former president of Ivan Cankar Club in Geelong


believe, that we are  on this Earth for a reason,
to make a difference and to be the change,
we  want to see it the world.

Na svetu si, da gledaš SONCE. 
Na svetu si, da greš za SONCEM. 
Na svetu si, da sam SI SONCE 
in da s sveta odganjaš - SENCE. 

Vsem najdrazjim, bodisi v Avstraliji ali pa v Sloveniji zelimo vesele bozicne praznike, z novim letom 2014 pa srece, zadovoljstva in ljubezni.

Joze, Simon, Mateja in Jozica Kostrica, Canberra


Lepe božične praznike v krogu vaših najdražjih in veliko zdravja, sreče in dobre volje v novem letu vam želim!

Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a healthy, happy and cheerful New Year,

Metka Čuk

How to explore your Slovenian heritage

By Daniel Maurice

Family History brings together the stories of many individuals and the events that shaped them. When we know about the lives of our forebears we can better understand where we came from and who we are.

My parents escaped from Yugoslavia in 1949. They came to Australia as part of the huge migration surge from Britain and (mainly eastern) Europe after World War Two. I was born only a year after their arrival in 1950 and from my earliest days was aware of my Slovene heritage. My parents spoke Slovene at home and had many friends from “the old country”. But while my parents would speak about their past lives in Slovenia and we even visited while I was still a child it was only many years later, when I was myself middle-aged and my parents had died, that I became really interested in exploring my Slovenian heritage. I was keen to make sure that I could pass on this family history to my children and their children.

Genealogy—researching your family history—is fascinating and frustrating in equal measure. It sometimes feels like you’re a detective trying to solve a mystery without enough clues. But when a missing piece of information turns up it becomes very satisfying to be able to piece together the story of your ancestors and their lives.

The Internet and digitisation of old records has transformed genealogy. Research that once required time-consuming and expensive visits to individual graveyards and churches, or hit-and-miss searches through old newspapers, has been replaced by online access to an incredible range of historical records and powerful search tools. As well, family trees recording the information you have gathered can now be managed with easy to use software that stores the results electronically and allows you to easily share your results with family and friends.

What’s more your can link your online family tree to literally millions of other family trees enabling you to benefit from the research of other people. Earlier this year researchers released the results of the first survey of European genealogical ancestry over the past 3,000 years. They found that all people of European descent are related—even if they now live on opposite sides of the continent. It’s always a surprise to discover the connections you have to other people as the result of Slovenian migration to many parts of the world.

I can now trace my Slovene roots back more than two hundred years and certainly know more about my heritage than my parents themselves ever did. For example my mother knew her father had spent 10 years in Argentina during the 1920s and 1930s before returning to Slovenia, but nothing more. I was eventually able to find out where my grandfather worked in Argentina and, most excitingly, was able to make contact with the family of my grandfather’s brother, who stayed on in that country.

So where to start?


There are many “how-to” guides for family history research on the Internet as well as a vast range of useful websites, some of which are listed below. A great place to start is simply to put down on paper everything you know about your parents and their generation. Then work back one generation at a time. Seek the help of relatives and family friends. A great strategy is to sit down with older relatives and a pile of family photographs—you will often be surprised how much they will remember using the photographs as memory prompts.

Genealogy is fun and can be very rewarding. But do also be prepared for surprises. Every family has at least a few “skeletons” in their past!
Slovenia-specific Resources

State Portal of the Republic of Slovenia. The State Portal of the Republic of Slovenia is a helpful tool to all the visitors interested in gaining general knowledge on Slovenia, information concerning public administration as well as those concerning private sector. In English.

A portal from the Ministry of the Interior with a wide range of information, mainly targeted at foreigners seeking to live and work in the Republic of Slovenia, but also of more general research use.

Archives of city of Trieste and its territory. Contains some historical information, maps etc. relevant to Goriskih Brdh and littoral Slovenia generally.

Archives of the Republic of Slovenia. Another page of useful links of central and regional archives. In Slovene.

Digital Library of Slovenia. Digital copies of many Slovene historical newspapers and magazines. Full-text searchable. Search tools available in English.

Slovene Ethnographic Museum. Covers traditional culture as well as mass and pop culture in Slovenia and the diaspora, on non-European cultures, and on the material and intangible cultural heritage of both everyday and festive life. Includes a wonderful collection of old photographs (searchable), giving locations, dates and people in the photographs. If you are lucky you might even find a photo of an old relative!

Slovenia Genealogy Links: A very useful page of links for anyone researching their Slovene heritage.

Slovenian Genealogy Society. The Society aims to bring together knowledge and experience of Slovene genealogists. It does not carry out private family research but some of its individual members do. The first link page below contains a range of useful information for anyone exploring their Slovene heritage, including an interesting video on “Finding your Slovenian roots and relatives” by the Society’s president.

The Society’s own website provides further information to assist family research. It is in Slovenian, but you can use Google’s auto web translator quite effectively.

Federation of East European Family History Societies. The FEEFHS was founded in 1992 to promote family research in eastern and central Europe. It has a section dedicated to Slovene genealogy.

General Genealogy Resources
The largest commercial website for family history. Offers access to a vast range of research tools, software and billions of individual records from around the world. However subscriptions are relatively expensive (up to several hundred dollars per year).
Similar to but is somewhat less expensive. Provides excellent free software, Family Tree Builder (FTB), to build and share your family tree online. The latest version of FTB supports the Slovene language, making it possible to record Slovene names correctly.
Run by the Mormon Church, but offering an enormous range of family data covering people everywhere. Really useful and has good filtering tools to assist you find the specific person you want.
A fantastic resource listing hundreds of thousands of death notices from Australian newspapers over the last 150 years.
Run by the Australian National Library and providing indexed access to numerous Australian newspapers over the last 150 years. You will be surprised how often your ancestors will appear in newspaper articles or family notices. Takes time but is very rewarding.
This is (currently) a free part of that aggregates millions of individual family trees built by users. Often you will find that your ancestors turn up in other peoples' trees and this is a great way to find information about them.
This is a resource of the National Archives of Australia. Provides access to historical records of the Australian Commonwealth Government. Contains many useful files including individual immigration and citizenship records, as well as many photographs.

Leigh Thompson, resident of Kozana in Goriška Brda

What is your association with Slovenia?

I met my future wife Katja in 1973 when I was studying Law and Arts at Melbourne University. We have been together ever since. We visited Slovenia in 1978 and again in 1980 when we were married in Ljubljana. We have returned many times and about 10 years ago we bought a house in Kozana near Katja's village Kojsko in Goriska Brda. We spend extended periods in Slovenia.

Where do you spend your time in Slovenia? Why?

We live in Brda. We spend time with Katja's father's people at Krnice on the mountain above Sp. Idrija. Beautiful scenery and a real farm with some cows and pigs and also the growing of herbs. I also like the villages over the border in Beneska Slovenija. But over the years we have been to most parts of the country. Next year we will go to Prekmurje.

Why do you want to spend time in Slovenija?

Even though it has changed over the years, I prefer it to Australia. I admire the culture and people strong enough to retain it in the face of attempts by others such as Italian or German fascists to destroy it. People are more polite than in Australia. And then of course there are the women.. After all I married one! Maybe I should write an essay devoted to Slovene women...

There is no crime where I live and I enjoy village life.

Several years ago I discovered the story of British, Australian and New Zealand soldiers escaping from Prisoner of War camps in Maribor, Australia and Italy and then being rescued by the Slovenian partisans. Some of these men wrote books about their experiences. I accessed documents from archives in Australia, UK and Slovenia. Hundreds of these men along with hundreds more crashed air crews and French forced labourers were rescued by the partisans and the village people who supported them at risk to their lives.

The photo shows me giving a speech with the sons of a New Zealand soldier rescued by the partisans.

What are the differences between Slovenian and Australian culture?

With the internet and international travel, the differences between the cultures reduce daily. But there are still differences.  I've always thought that people in authority have been accorded more respect in Slovenia than Australia purely by virtue of their position whether they be politicians or professional people such as lawyers.

The Slovenes have never been assertive about the value of their culture. There are probably historical reasons for this. But I've always been interested almost to a micro level even though Slovenes are rather shy about promoting themselves. Not all tourists are interested in casinos or big hotels. Just in my village is a 'samostan' from the 1600's, old houses from 1700, a building used as a hospital in World War 1 and the village Sv Rok festival.

Of course Australia doesn't have the dialects of Slovenia which is one of its charms.

Was it hard to get a residence permit?

It was easy for me as my wife and son Andrej are citizens of Slovenia. Just remember that all your Australian documents need to be officially translated into the Slovenian language.

What is your impression of the Slovenian clubs in Melbourne?

I have been to all the clubs at one time or another. In more recent years my son was dancing with the Folkloric group and we often went to the clubs. But now he is studying in Canberra, we don't go anymore. They are a fair way from our house. But I visit Slovene friends. Last weekend we were with Romana Zorzut and her husband Frank in Northern Victoria.

Can you share your best and worst experiences in Slovenia?

I have had many wonderful experiences in Slovenia.

I bought the house without seeing it and arrived with my small son. Of course the kitchen was a wreck, there was no heating and we had no beds. The local people of course wanted to know what was going on. So my friend from Kojsko explained that I was an impractical idiot but I was basically OK. She told them that I was an 'advocat' in Australia ( they weren't impressed with this ) but I didn't look down on people. So somebody suggested that if I confessed that in Brda I wasn't an 'advocat' but just an 'osel', they would help I confessed.

I have had no bad experiences in Slovenia but I would like to say that the last couple of years have been very bad for the country. Young people are pessimistic about the future. Politicians are believed to belong to an exclusive club. I have no idea about the extent of corruption but it is perceived to be significant. People often say that they have been betrayed by a fantasy of democracy where the result has been a wider gap between rich and poor.

Is Slovenia a corrupt country?

Transparency International published its corruption index for 2013. It shows the perceived level of corruption in the public service of 177 countries. According to their findings, Australia is ranked 9th sharing its position with Canada with 81 points out of 100; Slovenia is in 43rd place together with Lithuania with 57 points. All former Yugoslav republics are ranked well below Slovenia: Croatia in 57th position (48 points), Macedonia FYR and Montenegro share 67th position (44 points), and Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia share 72th place (42 points).

In this system, 1st place (100 points out of 100) means really clean and and last place (1 point) means totally corrupt. The lower the number of points the more corrupt the country is.

The placing of Slovenia is not surprising. Most of us probably believe that Slovenia is fairly corrupt. While I personally don't know of any public servant receiving bribes for their service, I do know of high officials using taxpayers resources for their private needs. And I am sure everyone else has an interesting little story about Slovenian corruption. Some may not be more than mere gossip while others are true and can be supported by hard evidence.

It would be easy to dismiss Slovenian corruption by saying that it is no worse than elsewhere, that Slovenia is in reasonable company - ahead of Malta, South Korea, Hungary and just behind Spain, Cape Verde, Dominica - and that it is placed HIGHER than its former best friends (that should count for something, shouldn't it?). However, it is not as simple as that.

Corruption means rot, it means that somebody is benefiting at the expense of another. If I use public funds privately I am stealing.

If the employer is the government, people in Slovenia tend to think that they are just taking from 'Drzava'  - as if 'Drzava' is a giantess who makes her own money and dispenses it at will. Because she looks mean and nasty it is OK to steal from her. She steals from them too, doesn't she?

People in Slovenia will one day have to realise that 'Drzava' are them: they are the ones who earn money and give it to the state through taxes so that it can be used for public service. They give it to public servants on trust. When an official uses public money for his own needs he is abusing taxpayers' trust.

Long-term, unchecked corruption in public service is extremely damaging as it teaches new generations that this is the easiest way to get what you want. Every generation becomes even more versed in different types of corrupt behaviour. Such behaviour becomes a norm and widely accepted. It undermines justice and economic development and destroys public trust in leaders.

This year, Slovenia is ranked 43. Last year it was ranked 37, six places higher. How low can we go?