In the 1990s Croatia witnessed the emergence of a memory that had been suppressed by the socialist-Yugoslav regime—namely the Bleiburg tragedy. The situation in Slovenia was similar in terms of identity and remembrance culture. Among the Slovenes, the communist crimes committed during the turmoil are known as the drama of Viktring or the Viktring tragedy, named after the largest refugee camp of the Slovenes. Reports on the communist postwar crimes and on the countless discoveries of mass gravesites have also begun circulating in the media of the German-speaking world in the last few years.
Florian Rulitz’s meticulously researched book, now available for the first time in English, provides a corrective to the historical memory that had been previously accepted as truth. Rulitz focuses on two essential questions. First, did the so-called “final encirclement battles” indeed occur in Carinthia in the Ferlach/Hollenburg/Viktring and Dravograd/Poljana/Bleiburg areas, resulting in military victories for the Yugoslav Army? Second, were the battles after the capitulation fought by the refugees with the aim of reaching the British-controlled areas in Carinthia? To answer these questions, Rulitz presents a detailed reconstruction of those days in May 1945. He furthermore considers the question of the murders on Austrian territory, which were hushed up in Partisan literature and presented as casualties of the final military operations. This groundbreaking study will interest scholars and students of modern European history.