The Slovenia Times

Slovenia's WWII Hospital Museum Wins EU Heritage Label


Conferred by the European Commission, the label is aimed to strengthen the sense of belonging to Europe, especially among the younger generations based on common values, ideas, European history and cultural heritage.

The label, which does not bring a direct financial effect but can help the sites boost their recognition, also seeks to enhance respect for national and regional diversity and inter-cultural dialogue.

A cluster of clandestine hospital facilities situated in a narrow gorge near the town of Cerkno, the hospital opened in late 1943 and was named after the head doctor Franja Bojc Bidovec.

One of the best equipped clandestine hospitals operated by the Partisan resistance during the war, it featured an operating room, X-Ray, a disabled care facility, and a small hydro power plant.

In the years after WWII, it was turned into a museum that became a popular tourist attraction and had been on the UNESCO tentative list since 2000. It is operated by the Idrija City Museum.

The ceremony in Brussels on Wednesday evening was attended by museum director Ivana Leskovec and curator Milojka Magajne, and Slovenia's Ambassador to the EU Rado Genorio with his wife.

Magajna said that Franja stood for values such as altruism, solidarity and courage, while the label will help them to communicate those values to even a wider public.

"We'll do our best to justify the honour we received tonight," Magajna said.

The European Heritage Label emerged in 2006 as an inter-governmental initiative that did not involve the European Commission. During that time the label was presented to three Slovenian sites, including Franja in 2007.

The other two sites were the Javorca Memorial Church of the Holy Spirit near Tolmin (W) and the Ljubljana Žale cemetery, designed by Slovenia's famed architect Jože Plečnik (1872-1957).

The Commission drew up in 2008 a proposal for the scheme at the EU level with the first selection held in 2013, but it was open only to the countries that did not participate in the original initiative.

Candidacies for 2014 were open to 18 member states, including Slovenia and the selection panel picked 16 projects among 36 entries, including Franja.


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