Museum of Hostages

Muzej talcev

There are a number of sacred places in Slovenia that are reminiscent of suffering of people during the Second World War. Begunje na Gorenjskem are an idyllic village under the mountain Begunjšcica, located seven kilometers north of Radovljica. The mighty Katzenstein castle in the middle of the settlement served as Gestapo prison during the time of Nazi occupation. In the years from 1941 to 1945, 11,477 prisoners went through it, mostly followers of the resistance movement from Gorenjska, as well as from other Slovenian regions.

A memory of fear, uncertainty and inhuman torture during investigation procedures lingers on. Many a prisoner was sent to concentration camps, mostly Dachau and Mathausen. Extreme Nazi form of repressing the love to freedom were executions of hostages by shooting. 894 people from prisons in Begunje were put to death in this manner. On 4th May 1945 the detachment of Partizan army took over the prisons in Begunje and set 632 prisoners free. This day marks a holiday in Begunje that is honoured with a commemorative ceremony every year.

The Katzenstein castle with its interesting history from 14th century onwards is now a psychiatric hospital with a commemorative museum arranged in its north-west wing, where the cells of those condemned to death were located during the Second World War. There are shocking written records of prisoners that are left on the walls of prison cells with the announcments of occupiers concerning the executions. Documented material and other objects show the life of internees and exiles in prisons and in certain concentration camps in years 1941-1945 and Nazi atrocities, commited on the local population. In the park and nearby valley Draga there are 667 organized burial places of hostages and Partisans. The two memorials are organized according to the plans of the architect Edvard Ravnikar. Artist sculptures Pripornik (Detainee) and Talec (Hostage) and Talka (Female hostage) from karstic marble in the park of the castle are works of academic sculptor Boris Kalin (1951 and 1954).

The former bell of parish church, which was cast in 1923 by the Kranjska industrijska družba, is also exhibited as a monument of its own kind.  

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