Occupied Ljubljana

The historical era of Ljubljana also known as occupied Ljubljana was the time when the city was occupied, at first by Italian Monarchy, and later by the Third Reich. Characteristic of this time is a system of light fortifications; it is a combination of wire barriers, fortified passages and bunkers. 23rd February 1942 the Italians completely enclosed Ljubljana with a defence system. Because of this, the city was the only capital city in the times of 2nd World War that was completely enclosed with fortification system. After 1170 days, on 9th May 1945, the bourgeoisie completely destroyed the defence line around Ljubljana, including most of the bunkers. Today some of this buildings are still visible on the northern side of the city and some individual ones can be found in the city (at Masarykova and Cesta Ljubljanske brigade). The city of Ljubljana was the first city in SFRJ (Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia) awarded with the order National hero, as the recognition to Ljubljana inhabitants for survival in times of invasion.


At the end of January 1942, the high commissioner for Ljubljana landscape Emilio Grazioli and colonel of 11. army corpus general Mario Robotti gave the order to Italian Monarchy army to start enclosing Ljubljana with barbed wire, and with that they prevented the contact of the city with its suburban area.

So on 23rd February 1942 the order to ban access from the city was issued:

High commissariat for Ljubljana landscape
PROHIBITION of the exit from the city of Ljubljana

High commissioner for Ljubljana province, on the basis of article 1. of the city order on day 3rd May 1941-XIX nr. 291, imposes:

Article 1.
Until further order, from 15.00 today, 23rd February 1942-XX, all exits from the city of Ljubljana are prohibited for all inhabitants.

Article 2.
Entering the city is allowed only for suppliers and those persons, who have from the reasons of public interest justifiable cause and who submit to supervisor stations at roads and railways for below listed places personal documents of identification, with photo: BREZOVICA, DRAVLJE, ŠT. VID, KLEČE, JEŽICA, TOMAČEVO, HRASTJE, ZALOG, DOBRUNJE, ŠKOFLJICA, STUDENEC-IG.

Article 3.
Against persons, who would try to enter or leave the city on other places as listed in article 2., use of weapon is allowed, and otherwise during the day after just one appeal, at night, from 19.00 until 7.00, without appeal.

Article 4.
Violators of orders from article 1. and 2. of this order will be punished with prison up to six months and in cash up to 5000 liras. For trials of these offences is competently military war court of justice.

Ljubljana, 23rd February 1942-XX

High commissioner:
Emilio Grazioli

PROHIBITION of the exit from the city of Ljubljana
PROHIBITION of the exit from the city of Ljubljana

But with prohibition the work on fortification did not finish. So, on 13th March 1942 Robotti communicated that the work continues with the installation of electrical lighting, reinforcement of the positions for weapons and supplementing the wire barrier. After some defeats occurred, general Robotti initiated, on 11th May, the formation of three-member Special committee for the building of the fortified wall around Ljubljana. The committee’s task was to inspect the existing infrastructure. The findings of the committee were that some areas are unsuitable. After that the corrections were done. With these actions they expanded, on some parts, the existing enclosure, which enclosed in the occupied Ljubljana also some areas that were previously left out of the occupied area (for example: Ljubljana Žale). What ensued was the building of the bunkers, increasing the number of barbed wires and taking over some houses closest to the ring.

On 19th July Robotti and Roatta confirmed the bad quality of work done, that was why Robotti ordered the fortification of the entire line, while Roatta demanded the creation of the war plan for the defence of Ljubljana and to finish the defence line until September 15th 1942. So they completely evicted 42 more houses, erected entanglements, guardhouses and declared the police hour. At the same time they fortified transitional apartment buildings and built artillery and machine gun posts, patrol trails and roads. Due to the slow work progress the Ministry for war of Italian monarchy approved the construction of five fortifications on Rožnik only on June 29th. The construction of the 26 kilometres long permanent patrol was approved on 10th August 1942.

Engineer department of 11. army corpus informed on 15th December 1942 that the work is done or is at the final stages of construction. Fortification system around Ljubljana was 26.663 meters long, it included 69 bigger bunkers – 11 exposed, 53 smaller and 73 indoor. In total that was 206 bunkers. The length of barbed wire was 41 kilometres, at the same time they installed 2,4 kilometres of electrical wire for its electrification.

Despite all these efforts the defence system still was not completely finished. The construction of the road Golovec – Škofljica was approved in August 1943, the airport Ljubljana was fortified in the July-August time span, they constructed three new fortifications and set up new wired barriers in the length of 3,5 kilometres. At the same time the construction of buildings on Ljubljana castle and Rožnik happened.


Additionally they also constructed an inner ring inside the city itself. With that they separated the city center from suburban areas – Vič, Šiška, Moste. They also erected non-permanent road blocks and guard houses. On August 24th 1942 all 34 guard houses were located on Tražaška cesta, Ziljska cesta, Graharjeva ulica, Emonska ulica, Krakovski nasip, Snežniška ulica, Šentjakobski most, Murnova ulica, Metni trg, Galusovo nabrežje, Gorupova ulica, Študentska ulica, Poljanska cesta, Znameniška ulica, Streliška ulica, Vhovičeva ulica, Prisojna ulica, Usnjarska ulica, Friškovec, Škofja ulica, Ulica Sv. Petra, Masarykova ulica, Ilirska ulica, Prešernova ulica, Celovška cesta, Cankarjeva cesta, Puharjeva ulica, on railway station Ljubljana-Šiška, Tomišičeva ulica, Erjavčeva ulica, Veselova ulica and Šubičeva ulica. Inner ring was finished on October 1942. According to the report from the 20th February 1943 they used 225 entanglements for its construction. The invaded city was now divided on three zones: inner zone (Gosposvetska-Prešernova-Erjavčeva-Trubarjeva-Kopitarjeva), zone II (Ljubljana without Vič, Šiška and Moste) and zone III (Vič, Šiška, Moste).


Germans invaded Ljubljana in September 1943, after the capitulation of Italy. Slovenian members of the Home guard took over the garrison of the defence line after establishing the Slovenian Home guard legion (or Slovenian Home guard) for direct defence they had chosen 11., 13., 15., 19., and 111. unit.

The retreat of German armed forces and Slovenian Home guard from Ljubljana started on 8th May 1945. Already the next day the Partisan reconnaissance 11. and 14. brigade of 29. Hercegovina division reached Karlovški bridge, and on the same day they entered Ljubljana. The next day the 11. and 14. Hercegovina brigade was already in Medvode, 13. brigade of the same division came into Šentvid.

Ljubljana was conclusively opened and enabled unlimited access on 26th May, on the day when Josip Broz Tito came into Ljubljana.


Map: Path of Remembrance and Comradship
Map: Path of Remembrance and Comradship

On May 1945 almost entire defence system was destroyed, only some individual bunkers in the city remained. In year 1953 first monument was erected on Dunajska cesta. First memorial march along the wire around the occupied Ljubljana took place in year 1957; today the walk has become a traditional event. Some years later, in the year 1961, first signs were erected – 102 memorial stones and 6 monuments. Architect Vlasto Kopač drew the basic plans for stone signs with symbolic carved line of barbed wire. In year 1972 Franci Kastelic, Mitja Omersa, Jože Štok, architectural students, represented the scheme of the Path of Remembrance and Comradship with the length of 32 kilometres and with four meters wide walking path. In year 1974 construction was approved, but beginning of construction only began in year 1978 and the path was finished in eight years. Along the path they sow more than 5000 linden trees, birches, maple trees, plane trees and willows. Janez Koželj and co-workers designed a special system of labelling for marking the path and accesses.