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Slovenia remembers defender of its northern border

Ljubljana, 23 November - Slovenia observes Rudolf Maister Day on Tuesday, remembering the general who established the first Slovenian army in modern history and secured what later became Slovenia's northern border. The holiday commemorates the day in 1918 when Maister (1874-1934) took control of Maribor.

Maribor
A bust to Rudolf Maister in the lobby of Maribor Town Hall.
Photo: Andreja Šeršen Dobaj/STA

Following the break-up of the Austro-Hungarian empire, Major Maister prevented Maribor and the Podravje region from being made part of German Austria, the country created after WWI comprising areas of the former empire with a predominantly German-speaking population.

On 30 October 1918, the German city council declared Maribor and its surroundings part of German Austria, which Maister found unacceptable. He set up a Slovenian army of 4,000 soldiers, disarmed the German Schutzwehr security service, and disbanded the militia of the German city council.

The general then occupied Slovenian ethnic territory, establishing the northern border between Austria and Yugoslavia that was later ratified by the Saint Germain Peace Treaty. The same border still runs between Slovenia and Austria today.

Maister is buried at Maribor's Pobrežje Cemetery. Until recently, he had a modest grave but on the eve of the holiday a new tomb holding his remains was unveiled.

A few events have been scheduled to mark the holiday, including open day at the Presidential Palace in Ljubljana and a round table in Škofja Loka dedicated to fighters from Škofja Loka area who fought under him.

Rudolf Maister Day has been a public holiday since 2005, although not as a bank holiday.

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© STA, 2021