Going back in time - End of WWII in Tolmin

by Andrej Obleščak (Excerpt from his biography)

On 1 May 1945, partisan troops entered Tolmin. From Kranjc's balcony on the square, Trg 1. maja, speakers followed one another and claimed victory over fascism and Nazism. The people gathered under the balcony clapped and shouted. For us, the Tolminians, all this shouting and exclaiming different slogans was a novelty; but there were many from the nearby villages who understood what this was all about. At this gathering I heard for the first time exclamations like: "Long live People's Republic Yugoslavia under the leadership of Marshal Tito and the Communist Party!"

This was followed by evening meetings, parades with torches and endless speeches in which we were promised heavenly life in the blissful future of socialism under the leadership of the Communist Party and irreplaceable Marshal Tito at its helm.

A few days after this so-called liberation, all menfolk of Tolmin, including my father, were called to the Administration Office. They kept them there for two or three days for interrogations. I believe this was a manoeuvre to instil fear  in the mighty opposition of the socialist system. Jakč Škulerjev, my aunt Marija's husband, had been an administrative head, the council secretary. He, mayor Devetak and all counsellors were given notice. The administration was taken over by the Army Committee to control the whole left Soča bank, including Tolmin. This area was called Zone B.

The right Soča bank was under the military administration of the Anglo-American Army and was called Zone A.

Photo: Damjan Leban
In 1946, my father was relieved of his postman job because he was physically healthy and could do some other more physical work. His postman job was given to a war invalid.

As my father could not get another job in Tolmin, he went to Moste near Žirovnica where a new dam on the river Sava was being built for an electricity plant. My father worked there as a blacksmith (his trade) until the end of 1947. In the new year, he returned home and found a job in the newly created building company "Edinost". He worked there until his retirement in 1957.

In 1946, Tolmin was upgraded from a square to a town. Not only that, Tolmin became the district town, covering the area from Trenta to Solkan and Idrija and the whole Vipava Valley. As a result, an enormous number of new offices and officers appeared. An unbelievable number of semi educated village people came to Tolmin to shuffle papers. For every issue they kept sending you from one office to another and everywhere were long queues. As there were so many new people in Tolmin, there was not enough housing. They created a Housing Committee which came and checked your house to determine how many lodgers each owner should take. We already had Aunt and were required to take another two persons to live in one room. Before the war we had lodgers out of need, now we had them out of duty. My father paid off the mortgage before the end of the war and no longer needed lodgers. On the other hand, we children were growing and were in need of more room. The Committee decreed that two bedrooms were enough for us and that our sister could sleep in the bedroom with our parents. 

As the socialist economy didn't prove to be very profitable, the government issued a law on compulsory contributions. A Committee visited all farmers, checked how much land they owned and decreed on the paper how much produce they were expected to grow. From this produce, each farmer was required to sell the set amount to the government for the price the government dictated. The Committee did not take into account droughts or bad seasons; there were many farmers who were not left with enough produce to feed their families after compulsory contribution. The Committee came to visit us, peasants, too. They counted our sheep (3), the goat (1), the pig (1), chickens (20), rabbits (25) and in the end left convinced that we did not have enough for compulsory contribution.

In 1950, the parliament adopted a law on the establishment of farmers co-operatives. The idea was to join all small farms into big farms and work them with modern farming machinery, such as tractors, harvesting machinery. The planners, however, forgot that fields required total care, not only eight hours per day, 40 hours per week. At the time of harvesting when wheat is ready, harvesting goes on until all wheat is harvested. At that time, the government liberated us of our big field in Učenk. They left us the small field at Logar's to work on it for another two years, but then they took this away as well and used it as a parking lot for farming attachments.

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