The visit to the Hospital Franja, built during the World War II will restore your faith in humanity. Hidden deep in the woods, in a remote gorge this place played a very important part in history. To this day tt still speaks about lives saved, courage under great distress but most of all it tells about people doing the right thing.
The hospital hidden deep in the woods, was built in 1943 in the difficult and rugged terrain in western Slovenia close to the town of Cerkno by Slovene Partisans. The founder and first builder of the hospital was Viktor Volcjak, but the hospital was named after its manager and physician, Franja Bojc Bidovec and it operated till the end of WWII.
There are signs along the way leading up to the location and they explain the whole story behind the hospital. They really help you get a better picture of what life was back then. I found myself struggling on the narrow pathway trying to maneuver my kids and making sure nobody fell. I complained how difficult this was. But thinking about the soldiers carrying the wounded through the Pasica Gorge, faltering in the bitter cold stream, made me put things in perspective.
Back then there were no narrow pathways, just a few bridges that could be retracted if the enemy approached, other then that you had to go into the the water. On such a lovely day it was difficult to imagine this place in the cold of Winter and people fighting to save their own and many other lives.
I have learned, because I had to read every single sign, that there were 578 patients there, and only 78 died, which I found fascinating once I saw what they had at their disposal – not much really.
And what you have to appreciate about it, is that the patients were many nationalities ( Soviet Union, Italians, Poles, Frenchmen, two Austrians, and two Americans) including one wounded German enemy soldier who, after being treated, remained in the hospital as a member of the hospital staff.
While the hospital was never discovered and survived the war, it was badly damaged in a flood after severe torrential rains in September 2007. It is really sad how many of the original items were then lost, never to be found again and the site remained closed for a few years. It was completely rebuilt in 2010 and is now again open for visitors.
Important for kids to visit
Despite the terrors of was, I thought it was important for my kids to see this, since this place carries a very positive message. SInce my kids are very young I however didn’t want to burden them by explaining the whole story of the war.
In the language they could understand we told them them that this was a magical place where good fairies lived and helped people when they got sick. They had to be this hidden away so the monsters wouldn’t find them. It seemed to do the trick, because they were impressed.
I know we are not children and we cannot look at life only through our pink glasses. Perhaps even this site might be a little tainted and not all perfect, but I still think that the people who worked here, from nurses to doctors to all the other staff, basically wanted to help, did the best they could, in the worst kind of circumstances.
This monument rightfully represents a symbol of struggle, humanity and heroism.
And it made me wonder if I was in such a position who would I be, what would I do? It is easy for us now to take life for granted but what would we do if we had to fight for it? I’d like to believe we’d try to make a difference as well. Like they did.
For more information regarding the museum visit their website.