The Slovenia Times

Slovenia pays tribute to its greatest general

Slovenian general and poet Rudolf Maister. Photo: Daniel Novakovič/STA

Slovenia is celebrating the 150th anniversary of the birth of General Rudolf Maister (1874-1934), who established the first Slovenian army and took control of Maribor in 1918, securing territory whose northern boundary would later become Slovenia's northern border.

Judging by his popularity, Maister is likely the most prominent military personality in Slovenian history. He is also known as a poet.

It is largely owing to him that Maribor, Slovenia's second city, and the north-east of Slovenia would become part of the new Yugoslav state rather than Austria after the Austro-Hungarian Empire collapsed.

Maister was in command of the regional headquarters at the end of World War I and in 1918 assumed command of Maribor and the Slovenian part of Carinthia. He set up a Slovenian army of 4,000 soldiers, disarmed the German Schutzwehr security service, and disbanded the militia of the German city council.

The general then occupied Slovenian ethnic territory, establishing the northern border between Austria and Yugoslavia that was later ratified by the Saint Germain Peace Treaty. The same border still runs between Slovenia and Austria today.

Slovenia has declared 2024 the year of Rudolf Maister. In addition to the 150th anniversary of his birth, this year also marks 90 years since his death and 100 years since he was named honorary citizen of his native town of Kamnik.

Rudolf Maister Day is celebrated every year on 23 November to remember his taking control of Maribor.

All of Maister's work was imbued with patriotism and a vision to realise Slovenia's territorial integrity, the government says on its website. He also played an indelible role in the collective conscience of Slovenians.

Ceremonies to honour the general are being held across the country. President Nataša Pirc Musar laid a wreath at the monument to Maister in Kamnik, and the museum at his childhood home is holding an open day.

Maribor is marking the anniversary with an exhibition on Maister and a concert, featuring excerpts from General, a book on Maister written by Tone Partljič.


More from Society