Dolenji Novaki

After the Germans occupied Yugoslavia in may 1941, partisan units were formed consisting of severed soldiers who had not surrendered or been captured by the Germans. Even civilians or prisoners of war who had fled from a prisoner of war camp could join a partisan unit. The partisans lived in inaccessible areas which the Germans avoided for fear and fear in order not to fall victim or be captured. The partisans not only carried out sabotage but also carried out direct fire attacks against German interests and even direct murders against any German local leader or Yugoslav collaborator. The partisans were therefore extremely feared by the Germans at any time avoiding areas where they knew there were partisans.

The partisans set up camps in inaccessible areas which the Germans preferred to avoid for both fear and fear. The German soldier captured by partisans could count on no mercy. The same was true for partisans who ended up in German hands. Partisans in Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union were extremely feared by the Germans and therefore special partisan units were set up to seek out and destroy partisans wherever they might be.

The partisans consisted of a mixture of severed soldiers, prisoners of war, civilians and Jews. Both men and women were included and certainly there were also children under the age of 15. They built up small functional hidden camps from which they started. But in addition to camps, smaller hospitals were also established where injured partisans, and others, could receive care. Such a hospital was established in a deep valley called Dolenji Novaki about five kilometers northeast of Cerkno. The hospital existed between December 1943 and May 1945 without it being discovered or revealed.

It was named Franja after Dr. Franja Bojc Bidovec who worked in the hospital virtually throughout its existence. The hospital consisted of about twenty barracks such as operating room, dressing room for the injured, dining rooms, kitchen, administration, x-ray room, shelters, dormitories etc. They were more or less self-sufficient but had of course contact with partisans in the area. There was a constant shortage of medicines and medical equipment, but they worked with what was available. About 600 people of different nationalities received care in the hospital.

Current status: Rebuilt with museum (2022).

Location: 46°09'00.27"N 14°01'38.48"E

Get there: Car.

My comment:

This was a site that I only learned about as late as 2022. I can’t remember exactly how I got in touch with it, but it immediately caught my interest because there were so many houses. This made it concrete, unlike places where there is only a single ruin, foundation, obscure monument or nothing at all. But unfortunately, the hospital was more or less completely destroyed as a result of heavy and persistent rain in 2007. But in 2010, the hospital was reconstructed and has since been open to visitors and is on a waiting list to be included on the UNESCO world heritage list.

From the car park it is a walk of about 500 meters up the valley before arriving at the place. Although everything is reconstructed, it is interesting to walk around the site and you can as a visitor also go into the houses that have also been recreated inside.

Follow up in books: Batinic, Jelena: Women and Yugoslav Partisans (2017).