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THE SLOVENE SEAMEN 1918–1945

 

After World War I, quite a few young men from the Slovenian ethnic territory served in the Yugoslav and Italian Navies and their merchant navies. Most of them joined the Navy of the Kingdom of SHS (the Kingdom of Yugoslavia) immediately after leaving the Austro-Hungarian Navy. The share of Slovenian mariners was particularly high among the ranks of the Navy officers. Most Slovenians served as submariners and naval pilots. In the merchant navy, there were relatively few of them, and even then they mostly served as officers on board ocean-going vessels.

The exhibition attempts to acquaint the visitors with the way of life and culture of our seafarers and their life stories in the period of World War II, when they willingly or unwillingly fought in their homeland and abroad on different continents and on both sides of the warring powers. Many of them spent a great part of the war in POW camps. In the end, however, the majority of them opted to fight against the occupiers by taking part in the Yugoslav National Liberation forces, particularly in the Navy, which organized its units in the Slovenian territory as well.


The exhibition is aided by the items used or made by our seafarers or were closely related to them. A large share of the exhibits comprises uniforms that speak of the individuals' life paths and their roles in the Navy. Among them is the uniform of the national hero Sergej Mašera, Lieutenant Commander 2nd Class, who together with Milan Spasič prevented, in April 1941, the Yugoslav destroyer Zagreb to fall into the hands of the Italian occupier and, for this very deed, sacrificed his life. After him, our museum was named.