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Testimony About the Biggest Crime in History: A Partisan Who Witnessed the Extrajudicial Killings of the Communist Authorities

This week on the show Pričevalci (Witnesses) by Jože Možina, the guest was the almost one-century-old Anton Cizl, a partisan who even presided over his local Association of Fighters of the National Liberation Movement for a while. In many ways, he is the most important witness of recent times, and what gives his testimony an indisputable historical significance is the revival of the memory of the killing of prisoners from Teharje in the summer of 1945, which he witnessed as a partisan. The cries and screams of innocent victims marked him and have accompanied him his whole life. “It is a terrible burden,” he said. This is an extremely truthful testimony of a century-old partisan that reveals the secrets of the biggest crimes – the post-war massacres of civilians and prisoners, committed by the communist authorities at a time when the regime dictators in Slovenia were Edvard Kardelj, Boris Kidrič, Ivan Maček, Mitja Ribičič, and others.

We have never heard such testimony before – at almost 100 years old, Anton Cizl laid a burden off his conscience, describing what happened when he was present, as the partisan guard, when driving the prisoners to the killing sites in Mostec and Huda jama. “The whole thing was led by the communists… There were guards on each side of the column as the prisoners walked towards the river Sava, where they were shot and thrown into a ditch. Women cried before they were killed, they were young, and they had children… Kardelj, Kidrič, Milka PLaninc, bastards, all of them – bastards.”

The witness Cizl almost cried several times during the interview. Anyone watching was able to feel the regret and the terrible burden he has been carrying around all of his life. He initially explained that he and his 17-year-old brother had the option of joining the partisans or the Germans on the Russian front. They opted for the partisans instead. “I did not feel good there; we slept in the woods.” Otherwise, the partisans got along well with among themselves, he said. One of his commanders was also Šepetavec Andi. He said that they also stole from stores. “I was hungry more often than I was full.”

Cizl said that, as partisans, they were also taught about Marxism, Stalin, and Lenin. “They only praised them; they never told us the truth. The same thing happened with Tito.” He also remembers the clashes with the Germans, seeing his dead comrades, and how they had to carry the wounded men to the hospital on their shoulders.

He drove innocent people to the killing site: “I can still hear their cries”
Cizl then confessed in horror that he used to drive the innocent prisoners to the killing site. Through Brežice in Mostec near Dobova, where the archaeologists also found the remains of many people who were murdered after the Second World War. Namely, they found the remains of at least 139 people that were parts of separate groups, archaeologists said. “It stays with you,” said Cizl, confirming that he often returns to the times of the mass killings in his mind. “These are painful memories, a terrible burden. I can still hear their cries. I only heard gunfire. There were fewer and fewer screams.”

The prisoners only learned that they would be killed when they saw the trenches
When the prisoners were loaded into a car, no one in Teharje knew they were going to their graves. “It was only when we got there, and they saw people with shovels that they knew. And then came the tears. Below the field, there was a trench, and further down, there was the river Sava. That is where they killed them. I talked to them while driving them there, I asked one woman why she was locked up, but she did not even know why. She was a waitress, working in a shop. I also remember an older man, who was a shoemaker, and I gave him a cigarette that had some value at the time. Or I gave a crust of bread to some woman here and there,” he recalled, noting that oftentimes, he did what he was not supposed to – he helped the prisoners.

The people Cizel drove to the killing site were never questioned by anyone. “Nobody asked them a thing; they just killed them. And that is terribly painful.” The main actor in all of this was the party. “The party was the leader of this whole operation. It was practically god-like; whatever they said, that is what had to be done.”

“Those who killed were mostly members of the party”
He also remembered the days when he was still a member of the commission of the Association of Fighters of the National Liberation Movement. “One of the members of the association beat up a priest there, he dragged him up the stairs, and later you could see that he was regretting it, he just blankly stared ahead.” But the Association of Fighters never made an effort to eliminate those who killed from their ranks. “Those who killed were mostly members of the party, and they protected each other,” he said.

Post-war crimes – they cut off the women’s breasts
“They took the land from farmers; they took the shops from the shopkeepers. They cut off the breasts of women who were pregnant or had children and their poured schnapps over their wounds,” Cizl recalled with horror and tears in his eyes. “You are never able to get something like that out of your head, never. All of these images still haunt me.” He said that memories still haunt him and that some soldiers even committed suicide because of it after the war. He says he got mixed up in the war when he was still quite innocent. IN October 1945, his military burden ended, and in 1950, he got married and moved to a farm.

Jože Možina, host of the show Pričevalci (Witnesses), commented on the testimony, saying: “Whoever is not able to condemn all three totalitarianisms, despite everything the former partisan and president of the Association of Fighters of the National Liberation Movement just told us, has no basic morals and is not a democrat, but rather a threat to Slovenian society.” Are the proud successors of communism able to face what they are supposedly proud of?

You can watch the interview, which is really worth watching, in its entirety HERE.

Anita Gužvič

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