Bust of assassination victim Ivan Kramberger unveiled

Gornja Radgona – A bust dedicated to late humanitarian, politician and inventor Ivan Kramberger (1936-1992) was unveiled in the north-eastern town of Gornja Radgona on Tuesday on what is the 30th anniversary of his assassination. An independence-era presidential candidate, he was killed during his pre-election speech.

The bust joined a number of others that are situated in the town’s Maister Square.

The keynote speakers were Maja Weiss, director and co-screenwriter of the documentary Beli Bojevnik v Črni Obleki (White Warrior in Black Suit), and Ivan Kramberger Jr., the politician’s son who co-wrote the film with Weiss.

The documentary tells a story about the role Kramberger played in Slovenia’s independence efforts.

Weiss noted that Kramberger was a pioneer in many fields and a man of many talents, as well as a politician who was shot dead at a political rally because someone did not like his ideas.

“His murder is both a reminder and a warning and a call for tolerance in Slovenian society, where there is still too much hatred between those who think differently,” she said, adding that he had stressed the importance of sticking together.

Kramberger was an advocate for marginalised people and the under-privileged, and his funeral was attended by seven thousand people, so it would be fitting to see the president speak today and pay a tribute to him on behalf of Slovenia, she said.

Kramberger’s son talked about his father’s humanitarian and peacekeeping efforts, seeing in him a role model. “Actually, he didn’t understand politics, he didn’t know how to compromise; when it came to the ordinary man, he didn’t understand how someone could think one thing and do another,” he said.

The bust was made by sculptor Mirko Bratuša, who hails from Negova, the same village as Kramberger did, that is situated west of Gornja Radgona. After the ceremony, White Warrior in Black Suit was screened at the Gornja Radgona cultural centre. The film will also be broadcast by RTV Slovenija on Thursday evening.

Kramberger’s assassination remains somewhat of a mystery as it appears that many unusual circumstances have never been explained, and a man who was convicted for his murder claimed his innocence until his death, saying he was set up as fall guy.

The story intrigued journalist Igor Kršinar so much that he wrote a book about it. Presenting it today, he said that this was not a book about unproven conspiracy theories, but a book that showed Kramberger’s political platform and who his voters were.

His platform was similar to centre-right parties of the time, but differed from them in that he was pro-choice and against the restitution of property seized from the Catholic Church after WWII. His target groups were impoverished workers, the elderly, the religious, women and less educated voters, notes the book titled Komu Je Bil Napoti Ivan Kramberger (Who Thought Ivan Kramberger Stood in Their Way).

Kramberger quite liked the then President Milan Kučan, but criticised severely the former Communist party and its successors. He was a populist of sorts with a characteristic self-confident demeanour, Kršinar added.

Two other speakers at the book presentation, Kučan, the first Slovenian president, and Lojze Peterle, the first Slovenian prime minister, spoke about their memories of Kramberger.

Kramberger’s political speeches – he often held them in Prešeren Square in Ljubljana and brought along his monkey – are known to have attracted up to thousands of people. In the first round of the 1990 presidential election he got some 19% of the vote and placed third.

He was assassinated in the village of Jurovski Dol in north-eastern Slovenia on 7 June 1992 as he was concluding a speech, only several months before the official start of the 1992 election campaign.