The Second World War brought many hardships to the people of Bela krajina. Semič was included in the Italian occupation zone and surrounded by barbed wire, which strongly incited the locals to revolt. After the withdrawal of the Italian army in 1943, a liberated territory was formed on the territory of Bela krajina. Many important institutions have come into existence here. In the forests of the Kočevski Rog plateau, the partisans built several partisan hospitals, one of which was Zgornji Hrastnik. It was built near Bukova gorica hill, about 6km from Črmošnjice.

First, they built two emergency barracks and a covered kitchen. At first, the wounded were operated on an ordinary table, on beds or even outside. Can we even imagine the sacrifice of the medical staff who helped the wounded in these remote Kočevje forests?

Hospital manager Dr Janez Milčinski – Peter designed plans for a proper operating table and all the necessary equipment himself. According to his designs, equipment was then made for all hospitals in Kočevski Rog. In the middle of this wilderness, the partisans even arranged an aseptic operating room, that is a sterile space for performing the most demanding operations.

More than 400 seriously wounded patients were treated at the Zgornji Hrastnik hospital. Sixty-nine died here, buried in a cemetery near the hospital. This hospital was extremely important for the national liberation struggle, as it carried out very demanding medical procedures.

Due to its unique role during the war, the Zgornji Hrastnik hospital is a monument of national importance. Looking at the wooden surgical barracks, the visitor feels a deep respect for all those who have saved many lives here with their courage, sacrifice and camaraderie.

On Planina pod Mirno gora, about 7km from the Zgornji Hrastnik hospital, the Disabled Choir was founded in 1944. The wounded partisans encouraged the fighters with a song and encouraged people to revolt in difficult times. The partisan choir still operates today and thus preserves the memory of wartime.


Foto: Uroš Novina