© Manca Juvan

When Magda Lovec Trtnik (1932) attended school in occupied Ljubljana she wasn't allowed to tell her father was shot as a hostage and her mother killed at Urh, a location known for torture and killings of partizans and supporters of the resistance. "Tell them they died before the war," were the instructions Ms. Lovec Trtnik, a World War II orphan, received.

For years she was holding for herself events that marked her life since she was nine years old. For her as for many others the Word War II and the italian occupation of the slovene territory turned into a life sentence.
The truth is that her father, a political activist and member of resistance, was shot by italian soldiers as hostage in Ljubljana at Gramonza jama on June 11, 1942. 
Tone Trtnik, later a national hero, was one of seven hostages killed that day. Shot hostages were buried in two graves. "At the time my aunt visited the graves and lit the candles. One candle died out. She decided that my father is buried in the grave with the lit candle," Ms. Trtnik explained how this simple belief influenced the location of her father's grave. It stayed unquestioned until today. It is of immense importance and consolation to Ms. Lovec Trtnik to have a known place she can visit and pay respects to her father.

Her mother, Justina Trtnik, was an activist and member of resistance too. "One morning when she left for work - she was working at the paper factory Papirnica Vevče - italian soldiers arrested her," Ms. Lovec Trtnik remembered the September 18, 1942 events. Her mother was arrested and sent in internment on the island of Rab. "The soldiers searched for me too. My grandmother sent me on time to known people in a neighboring village," Ms. Lovec Trtnik beleives that day she escaped the internment.
Letters and postcards her mother wrote in interment where messages of encouragement, care and love. Ms. Lovec Trtnik preserved all of them. She read them many times and she shown them to her children and grandchildren. "When I read her letters and postcards I cry," she told.
Letters are full of mother's care for the daughters survival and future. She was allowed to write to her doughtier on Thursday, we learned form Ms. Lovec Trtnik. Through letters Justina Trtnik encouraged her doughter to learn at school, get healthy and never turn down anything important. In a child story stile she described the internment. She wrote about animals in internment. She wrote about lice.
In April 1943 her mother was released from italian fascist internment. 
Once back home Ms. Lovec Trtnik remembers her mother being weak. But nothing was in a way for Justina trtnik to go back to work. "It's from work that she once came home and announced the capitulation of Italy," Mr. Lovec Trtnik remembered.

The capitulation of Italy was just a short period that turned to be a period of exchange of occupiers, soldiers and troops in Ljubljana and its suburbs. Soon German soldiers took over the territory. With Germans their local allies the so called White Guard and Slovene Home Guard - domobranci got power. They arrested Justina Trtnik at the end of November 1943, seven month after her release from the internment. "She never came back," Ms. Lovec Trnik said. Her mother is one of non-identified victims at Urh.
Ms. Lovec Trtnik assisted to the exhumations of the mass grave at Urh. She was a 13-years old war orphan and she was standing and staring at corpses in an attempt to recognize her mother's outfit. 
The exhumations stopped before all the victims were unburied. Justina Trtnik was never found and she doesn't have a grave. "It is difficult to explain the importance of a memorial place where you can visit your dear ones," Ms. Lovec Trtnik told.

She shown us all the material heritage she is preserving from her childhood: letters, few photos, articles cut from newspapers … Among them was a little orange notebook. She opened it on a page where she wrote dates of her father's birth, arrest and death and of her mother's arrest. It was heart braking to step in shoes of a ten or thirteen years old girl who is writing down in her notebook dates of loss of her parents and not dates of falling in love with a boy from the same class.


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