One of the worst war crimes committed by the Germans in Slovenia took place on 12 February 1945 near Stranice where the Germans hanged 100 people. The background to the massacre dates back to February 2 of the same month when a high German district leader, Anton Dorfmeister, was fatally wounded in an ambush in Tesno gorge. In retaliation, the Germans decided to hang 100 Slovenian prisoners who were brought from the prisons of Celje, Maribor and Trbovlje. The day before the massacre, the prisoners were gathered in the prison of Stari Pisker in Celje. At 08:00 the next day, the Germans began transporting the prisoners in groups to Stranice about 15 miles north of Celje where they were hung in apple trees along the way.

The place was well guarded and two Slovenian collaborators volunteered to carry out the hangings. Up to five people could be hanged from a single tree and everything was supervised by high-ranking officers from the Gestapo. The hangings lasted until 12:00 and the bodies were left hanging until 14:00 when they were picked down by other prisoners and buried in two mass graves. It has not been possible to determine whether exactly 100 prisoners were hanged that day. What you know is that there was a prisoner who was not hanged, this prisoner tried to escape but was shot down by guards.

Current status: Museum (2011).

Location: 46° 21' 2.74" N 15° 20' 51.84" E

Get there: Car.

My comment:

The apple trees are long gone, but the two mass graves (one with 40 and 60 victims respectively) are well-groomed and there is a memorial plaque with the names of the murdered. There is also a small museum with no regular opening hours on site. If you want to visit the museum, contact the Museum of recent history in Celje, which is more than happy to help with a visit. The massacre has symbolised the brutality of the Germans in Slovenia.

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