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From ISTRA BENZ to ISTRABENZ: 1948-1996

From ISTRA BENZ to ISTRABENZ: 1948-1996

The exhibition by Regional Archives Koper

Editor dr. Jedert Vodopivec Tomažič

Info Center Monfort in Portoroz from April 30th - 13th June 2022

The exhibition is dedicated to Istrabenz, formerly one of the most prominent companies not only in Koper, but the Primorska region and Slovenia as a whole. The purpose was to shed additional light on the company’s development and activities from its establishment in 1948 until the completion of its ownership transformation in 1996. 

The exhibition presents the historical background, testimonies of former employees, and all of the available written, photographic, audio-visual and other archival material related to Istrabenz in this period. 
The idea was originally brought forth a few years earlier, when exhibitions began to be set up, books published and documentary films made about former companies in this particular region. The desire was to preserve the historical memory and the time when the economy of the Primorska region began to grow "almost from scratch" after World War II. As Istrabenz was one of the most important companies in the area, it was clear that the company and its former employees, who helped create and build it, would no doubt deserve such recognition.

The exhibition and accompanying publication are, furthermore, a contribution to the anniversary of Slovenia gaining independence in 1991.

The exhibition was enriched by material on Angel Gruden, the first director of Istrabenz.
The editor found out about this very interesting material only after the publication, when the article was published in the newspaper Primorski dnevnik. After the newspaper article, Mr Henrik Gruden from Trieste, Angel Gruden's nephew, announced that he was keeping material relating to his uncle Angel Gruden.
With the permission of Angels son Boris Gruden, the documents were scanned in the Regional Archives of Koper, where they are also kept and in this occasion presented at the exhibition.

We cordially invite you to visit the exhibition at the Info Center Monfort in Portoroz every day from 10 am to 2 pm, except Mondays

In conclusion, some narrations by the company’s former employees: 
"These lines are intended for the younger members of our collective, who as our successors will go through time, read these pages and get acquainted with the greatness of the work done in the past. In order for this work to be fully and correctly evaluated, however, this book should be kept and updated from year to year, for only in this way will it serve its purpose." (Angel Gruden, first director 1948-1951, written in 1957)
 "… It never crossed my mind to leave the company, regardless of all other offers. Istrabenz was my second home, with all workmates being like family members. " (Peter Požrl, Commercial Manager) 
"Now that I am retired, I often remember working at Istrabenz and, in recent years, at petrol station leaseholders. I can say that at Istrabenz we were respected, recognized and trustworthy workers. I especially remember how the company’s leading men knew each of us by name and surname. I felt good then and feel good today for being recognized and respected in the Istrabenz family. " (Franc Cvetrežnik, pumpman)   
"The atmosphere in the Osp team as well as other teams was unique, our gatherings became a regular part of us, the pumpmen, and of Istrabenz itself. Above all, I would like to point out that we, the employees, were of the same age and that our tight connections crossed the boundaries of the company, as we helped each other a lot when building our homes and made friendly ties between our families as well. In short, a great friendship and unity that reached up to the leaders of the company. … To put it simply, you worked as if working for yourself. " (Dušan Starman, pumman)
"Unfortunately, the family atmosphere and camaraderie in the company changed significantly after 1995, with the arrival of changes. Until that year, it was a joy and pride to work for Istrabenz. Well, let me conclude by saying that I have a very fond memory of the years I spent at Istrabenz. And today, when looking back at it all, I must say that the old proverb “a hen that lays golden eggs is not sold" still holds true. " (Lojze Hočevar, Head of the Occupational Safety and Health Service)

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