Days of Gottscheer Culture start in Kočevje
Kočevje, 16 September - The municipality of Kočevje is launching the Days of Gottscheer Culture on Friday, an effort aiming to preserve the heritage of the Gottscheer Germans or Kočevarji, who lived in the area of Kočevje in the south of Slovenia until the end of the Second World War.
Several events will take place over the coming three days in and around Kočevje as part of the festival, which has President Borut Pahor serving as the patron of honour.
A workshop for children dedicated to the bee-keeping heritage in the region will be held on Friday in Stara Cerkev alongside a talk on the heritage of storytelling.
On Saturday, the Regional Museum of Kočevje will organise presentations of Gottscheer culture in the village of Koblarji and together with primary schools also a Koblarji art colony. Moreover, another heritage talk and a guided tour of the village are planned in the afternoon.
On Sunday afternoon, the Regional Museum will host a coat of arms ceremony along with a cultural programme.
Gottscheer Germans were present in Kočevje and the surrounding area from the early 14th century, when they colonised this area, until their forced emigration in 1941-1942.
There were approximately 12,000 Germans in Kočevje before the Nazis resettled them to an area under Nazi Germany in Štajerska region from where they had expelled Slovenians. This happened after Italy occupied the Kočevje region.
Those Kočevarji who did not leave Slovenian lands after WWII with the German occupying forces and those few who remained in the Kočevje region, were expelled to Austria by the new Yugoslav authorities after the war.
Before WWII, there were 177 villages of Gottscheer Germans, now 112 no longer exist. Many Gottscheer Germans settled overseas after leaving Slovenia.