Days of Gottscheer Culture start in Semič

Semič, 2 June - Days of Gottscheer Culture will kick off on Friday evening in Semič, south-east. The three-day series of events aim 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.

The Days of Gottschee Culture festival.
Photo: Rasto Božič/STA
File photo

On Friday a discussion will be held with two of the few direct descendants of the Gottscheer Germans that still speak the Gottschee language, the organisers noted. A folk dance group of the Association of Gottschee Native Inhabitants will perform.

On Saturday the festival will continue with a 12-kilometre hike through what used to be Gottscheer villages.

A workshop will be held to showcase traditional farming activities on Sunday. A fine-arts colony will be organised on Mirna Gora hill, where typical Gottscheer dishes will be served.

As part of the festival, two exhibitions will be on display in Semič, one on bee-keeping in the area, and the other featuring paintings of a 2022 fine arts colony, organised by the Semič Association of Fine Artists and the Union of Gottschee Organisations.

The Germans settled in the area of Kočevje in the 14th century. In 1870, some 26,500 Gottscheers lived in the region. They mostly resettled due to the 1930s recession and repatriation efforts by the Nazis during WWII.

Today some 600-700 direct descendants of Gottscheers still live in Slovenia, according to data of the Union of Gottschee Organisations.

Their numbers are decreasing, which is why the municipalities of Semič, Dolenjske Toplice and Kočevje have joined forces and alternate in hosting the Days of Gottscheer Culture.

© STA, 2023