Katzenstein Castle


In the small town of Begunje na Gorenjskem, about four miles north of Ljubljana, there is a small castle called Katzenstein. The castle was built in the 1500s and had until it became a prison in the 1800s had different functions. Shortly after the German occupation of Yugoslavia in April 1941, the castle was used as a temporary gathering place for prisoners to be deported to other prisons. But there was a great deal of resistance against the Germans in the area, and the Gestapo found it necessary to use the prison permanently. During the war, there were 11,477 prisoners, the majority of men, in prison and several of them were imprisoned in different rounds. Some of the prisoners were deported to concentration camps, particularly Dachau and Mauthausen. The Gestapo executed 897 prisoners at a location near the prison, others were executed at Draga valley, about four kilometers from Katzenstein. The prison was liberated by Yugoslav partisans on May 4, 1945, when 632 prisoners were freed, plus 92 Germans serving in prison were captured.

Current status: Preserved with museum (2011).

Location: 46°22'37.6"N 14°12'03.6"E

Get there: Car.

My comment:

After the war and until 1991, Katzenstein continued to serve partly as a prison and educational institution. Since 1961, the part of the prison where death row prisoners awaited the death penalty is a museum (Museum of hostages). In several of the prison cells, death row prisoners have carved in final greetings to their loved ones. At the execution site, about 200 meters from the prison, a memorial park with monuments has been established and marked mass graves with the names of those who were shot. Since 1952, there is also a mental hospital in the castle, which was still in use in 2011.

Follow up in books: Pavlowitch, Steven: Hitler’s New Disorder: The Second World War in Yugoslavia (2008).