One of the worst war crimes committed by the Germans in Slovenia took place on February 12, 1945, near Stranice where the Germans hanged 100 people. The massacre’s background dates back to February 2 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 prisons in Celje, Maribor and Trbovlje. The day before the massacre, the prisoners were taken to the prison of Stari Pisker in Celje. At 08:00 am the next day, the Germans began transporting the prisoners in groups to Stranice, about fifteen kilometres north of Celje, where they were hanged in apple trees next to the road.

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 Gestapo officers. The hangings lasted until 12:00 and the bodies were left hanging until 14:00 when they were taken down by prisoners and buried in two mass graves. It has not been possible to determine whether exactly 100 prisoners were hanged that day. One prisoners was shot dead when he tried to escape.

Current status: Museum (2011).

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

Get there: Car.

My comment:

The apple trees are 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. This massacre has become a symbol for the crimes committed by the Germans in Slovenia.

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