Monday, March 14, 2011

Sunday road trip: going home

Yesterday Mr. C and me went to Celje, my favourite city in the entire world. This is the place where I would spend my summers as a child and I feel deeply connected to it.
On the way we took a little detour to my mum's birth house Castle Strovšnek. The picture below was taken in 1938, it portrays my great grandfather and my great grandmother standing at the entrance to the castle. My great grandfather had made a vast fortune producing and exporting timber and bought this place in 1869. The story however ends tragically. In 1941 after the beginning of WWII my great grandparents were accused of treason and executed in the most brutal manner.

Their property was confiscated. It was widely known that the partisan movement was eager to get their hands on my great grandfather's estate and that the accusations were false.
My family spent the better part of the last 30 years trying to get back what rightfully belonged to us. We did in the end. It was a bitter victory. My great grandparents were never exonerated due to the lack of evidence. They are buried in unmarked graves on a nearby hill where they were executed.

Me and Mr. C standing in the same doorway 73 years later:

I feel no bitterness or anger towards the Partisans. I am immensely sad that during the last century this building has been sadly neglected and is now irreparably damaged. It's truly heartbreaking that a property once renowned for it's exotic gardens and a fishpond is slowly decaying without anyone caring. It feels like my great grandparents died in vain and all that they've accomplished during their lifetime is as if it never existed.

I hoped that by touching the wall I could somehow break the bonds of time and space and be able to feel a connection with my ancestors.

Mr. C rigging the camera on automatic, so we can both be in the picture.


  1. Wow! What a story. How sad about your great grandparents, but wonderful that you've been able to go back and be in that place and tell their story. It's a shame it's in such disrepair though :(

  2. Oh what times there were during the World Wars. And the same has been going on at our times too, reading the news from the dictators. I am happy to hear that you were able to visit the exact places you have document and stories to tell us about.

  3. So many evil deeds in wars especially WW2,and so many people still feeling the pain.
    What a great building,did it help 'touching' the walls? Ida

  4. Heidi: Yes, very sad, unfortunately probably not the only family that this has happened to. On an off note: you once asked to see my funky glasses, as you can see I'm wearing them in the picture.
    Mette: I can't even begin to imagine the terrors of war and destruction. Or how my great uncle (grandmother's brother) must have felt, having to bury his parents with his own hands. It's important to look back on the history without anger but with the awareness that if we don't tell these stories, history will repeat itself.
    Ida: For what it's worth, I felt at peace and reconciled with the past. Thought the place had an eery atmosphere, probably because the place was abandoned years ago.

  5. So, it is now once again owned by your family? What an amazing place, though a sad story.

  6. Kalee: My family sold this place because frankly we couldn't afford to keep it. As well as neglecting the building, the government also abandoned the timber mill, that my great grandfather had build and was a source of steady income. So by the time it was returned to my family in the early nineties, the castle was falling apart, the timber mill was closed up and a vast fortune diminished into nothing.

  7. It's very sad to hear about your great grandparents. That's awful what happened.