Žejane (Croatia)

12 November 1920 The signing of the Treaty of Rapallo between the Kingdom of Italy and the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. The multi-ethnic area of the former Austrian Littoral was obtained by Italy.

6 April 1941 Yugoslavia was attacked by Germany, later followed by the Italian, Hungarian, Romanian and Bulgarian army; its territory was partitioned between Germany, Italy, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria.

3 May 1941 Italy formally annexed the Central and southeastern part of Slovenia – naming it Province of Ljubljana and thus extended its eastern borders.

2–14 December 1941 The Second Trieste Trial was being held against 60 Slovenian antifascist fighters. The Special Tribunal for the Defense of the State convicted five death sentences.

8 September 1943 Capitulation of Italy.

10 September 1943 Wermacht established the Operational Zone of the Adriatic Littoral (Operationszone Adriatisches Küstenland) and the Operational Zone of the Alpine Foothills (Operationszone Alpenvorland).

5 October 1943 The German army burned down several family homes and agricultural buildings in the three villages within the Istrian war operation.

End of March 1944 Burning down houses and agricultural buildings in the villages of Žejane and Male Mune.

5 May1944 Burning down the villages of Vele Mune and Male Mune within the Braunschweig war operation and destroying almost every building.

Summer 1944 The members of the German armed forces mines the Church of St. Andrew the Apostle in Žejane.

September 1944 The internment camp Emma (Straflager Emma) in Žejane and the labour camp in Vele in Male Mune was established.

9 May 1945 The official end of World War II in Europe.

The second half of 1945 Renovation began in the three villages.

The first half of 1946 The volunteers from Žejane build a school.

1947 Žejane, Vele Mune and Male Mune are mostly renovated.

Vele Mune, Male Mune and Žejane in World War II

The beginnings of the organised antifascist activity in the three village area – Vele Mune, Male Mune and Žejane – are witnessed since the end of the 1941 or the beginning of 1942. The supporters of the National Liberation Struggle were active in Žejane at that time, which is witnessed by the event from 1942, when the carabinieri from the Vele Mune station arrested four individuals on the suspicion of organised activity against the current government.

The National Liberation Committee was established in Vele Mune in May 1943 with three members. The Committee was organised in Žejane as well in the same year with six locals as members. By the end of the summer or beginning of the fall in the same year the United Anti-Fascist Youth Association (USAOH) and the Woman Antifascist Association (AFŽ) were active in the three village area.

The locals attacked the carabinieri station in Vele Mune after the capitulation of Italy on 8 September 1943 and disarmed the crew. The attack was implemented with less weapons – one machine gun, two rifles and a few grenades they acquired in Račja vas and Podgrad.

These three villages were annexed to the Operational Zone of the Adriatic Littoral after the capitulation of Italy. In the beginning of October, the area saw battles within the Istria war operation.

After the success of the October offensive activity the occupying forces began with the intimidation of the local population to prevent assisting or joining the partisan movement, which had been successfully performing attacks on German units and roads in the area of the Opatija Karst since the beginning of 1943.

The German army organised a series of antipartisan operations such as arrests and deportations or massacres of local population and members of the National Struggle Committee¸ and burning down houses and agricultural buildings. 118 men from Vele Mune, Male Mune and Žejane were taken to the German labour camps in the middle of the February 1944. In the following months they arrested or abducted many girls as well.

One of the larger activities, the Braunschweig operation began on 25 April 1941 and was remembered in this area mostly for two events. After the horrendous crime in Lipa on the last day in April 1944 the Vele Mune, Male Mune and Žejane saw horror on 5 May 1944.

The local population of 1.700 prior to wartime was banished and their homes and agricultural buildings were destroyed and burned down. The banished population of the three villages, among them were mostly women, elderly and children, found refuge in the neighbouring settlements: Starod, Račice, Podgrad, Pasjak, Šapjane, Zvoneća, Brešca, Veli Brgud, Mučići, Jušići and elsewhere. The exiled locals returned occasionally from their temporary homes to work on the land.

There is no historical evidence of the exact number of burned homes and agricultural buildings of the three villages as several sources of history documents different information. At least 120 houses and 100 agricultural buildings were destroyed in Vele Mune; at least 97 houses and 85 agricultural buildings were destroyed in Male Mune and at least 86 houses and 84 agricultural buildings were destroyed in Žejane after 5 May 1944, including the burning down in October 1943 and March 1944. The members of the German armed forces mined the Church of St. Andrew the Apostle in Žejane in August 1944.

In the fall of 1944 the German forces established a labour camp in the burned down villages of Vele Mune and Male Mune mostly for the prisoners from Istria and the area of Rijeka, and an internment camp Emma was organised in Žejane. The Žejane camp’s labour force was comprised of few locals from Žejane and the neighbouring villages. There were also child prisoners: the youngest was only 9 years old upon the arrest.

At the end of the war” the population of the three village helping each other began with the renovation of their homes and stables. There was the unspoken rule of priority – first they would have renovated homes for families with small children and those without any male members.

Villagers from captivity also began returning back home during that time – former prisoners from the working and internment camps.

Despite the large poverty after the times of war, the three villages succeeded in their renovation. They began renovating in the second half of 1945, while the largest number of buildings in Vele Mune and Male Mune was renovated the following year. The most intensive renovation took place in Žejane in 1947. The previous year they volunteered in building a school for the first time in the village.

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