Comic book tells story of Nazi massacre
Ljubljana, 25 January - A comic book set at the end of World War II in the mountains of the Austrian province of Carinthia, was at the centre of an event hosted by the Research Centre (ZRC) of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts (SAZU) Tuesday evening. The book attempts to raise awareness about one of the last Nazi crimes against the Slovenian minority in Austria.
The book tells the story of a Nazi murder of eleven civilians, including seven children, on the Peršman farm in the mountains over the town of Eisenkappel/Železna Kapla. Three children survived the massacre, among them Ana Marija Sadovnik, who was 13 years old at the time and is at the centre of the story.
Writer Evelyn Steinhalter, whose grandmother was Slovenian, told the STA last night she had felt that by telling Sadovnik's story she could tell the story of a part of the nation's history. She told the STA that the massacre at the Peršman farm was virtually unknown in the Austrian public.
She decided to put the story in a comic book because this genre attracts more readers than non-fiction books. It was only after she had decided to write the comic book, that she learnt that in contrast to Austria, many World War II stories had been told in comics in France and Italy.
Entitled "Peršmanhof 25 April 1945", the comic book came out in Austria in 2018, while the Slovenian translation "Peršmanova domačija. 25. april 1945" was published last year. The book was illustrated by Verena Loisel, a Vienna-based illustrator and comic-book author.
The story starts only days after the allies free occupied territory, with an armed fight between a Nazi police unit and Partisans staying at the Peršman farm, killing eleven civilians, members of the families Sadovnik and Kogoj, who were living at the farm.
Those responsible for the crime were never punished, even though a trial was held a few years after the war ended.
The comic book focuses not only on the day of the murders but also on surviving in what was a nearly completely destroyed farm after the incident. The farm became a home in the late 1940s once again, before being turned into a museum in the 1980s.
Daniel Wutti, a teacher at the University of Klagenfurt and a representative of the Peršman Association, told the STA that the Peršman Museum was the only museum in Carinthia dedicated to anti-Nazi resistance. It also raises awareness about the Slovenian minority in Austria. Wutti said that these two topics are not very well known in Carinthia.
He believes the Peršman farm murder was one of the biggest Nazi massacres involving civilian population in Carinthia. This and many other crimes are not known to the majority German-speaking population, but are an integral part of the minority's remembrance.