From September 1944 to April 1945, the Topolovec Military Partisan Hospital operated in the village of Črešnjevec near Semič. Topolovec was the illegal name of the outpost. It was established after the allies began accepting wounded partisans into their hospitals in southern Italy in May 1944. The severely wounded soldiers needed safe and long-term treatment and demanding operations, which the partisan hospitals could not offer.

The good geographical location, the relatively short distance to Otok and Krasinec emergency airports and the presence of nearby partisan units guarding the hospital and both airports were decisive for the building of the Topolovec Hospital.

The whole village of Črešnjevec unanimously and selflessly supported the hospital. The war had been going on for a long time, so there was a shortage of everything: food, medicine and medical supplies. They didn’t even have basic hospital equipment. But the villagers organised quickly and well, with the help of children and the oldest residents. 

They made the necessary hospital equipment and took care of the electrical wiring and heating. The hospital became well organised in a fairly short time. It operated in strict secrecy, so it was never discovered. This way of caring for the wounded was unique in Europe.

The locals drove the wounded and severely disabled on hand carts and an ox-cart to Otok and Krasinec airports. For the villagers, this was a very responsible and risky task, as the German occupier attacked the airport several times from the air. By the end of April 1945, allied planes had taken about 2,800 people from Otok and Krasinec airports. There were many allied soldiers and pilots among them who survived the downing of their planes. In the village of Otok, a DC-3 Dakota plane is on display, the kind used to transport the wounded to allied bases.

Today, a memorial room dedicated to the former hospital has been arranged in the old farmhouse of the Škof-Šrajf homestead in Črešnjevec. There are also many interesting photographs on display, preserving the memory of the incredible solidarity of the people of Črešnjevec for future generations.

Foto: Uroš Novina