Slovene Emigrants in Europe at the Outbreak of the Second World War

  • Marjan Drnovšek ZRC SAZU - Inštitut za slovensko izseljenstvo, SI-1000 Ljubljana, Novi trg 2
Keywords: emigrants, Germany, France, Belgium, Holland, Second World War, refugees, emigrants’ associations


The Slovene emigrants in Western Europe, most of whom lived in Germany, France, Belgium and Holland, experienced the war even before Yugoslavia was attacked in April 1941. Among many who, in their homeland, wrote about their fate in rather gloomy tones were Edvard Kocbek, France Omahen, Alojzij Kuhar, Kazimir Zakrajšek, Bogo Grafenauer, Viktor Plestenjak. In Germany, the Slovenes sensed the war as early as 1933, when the Nazi totalitarian ideology, intolerant of foreign ethnic groups, emerged, and were subject to the actual state of war from September 1939. Those in Holland, Belgium and France, however, came under the German occupation in Autumn 1940. While most of them continued working in mines, many were deported to Germany as forced labour or to concentration camps. Some emigrants, especially those of leftist orientation, joined the resistance movements in various countries. Some of them were arrested, imprisoned or executed. Although emigrant associations were forbidden, some activities, such as lending of books, continued.