Open letter to Ludwig Kren

Open letter to Ludwig Kren

Beitragvon John Tschinkel » Di 17. Mai 2016, 16:42

Dear Ludwig Kren,

Again, the Gottscheer Zeitung (December, 2013) reminds us of your 93 birthday and wishes you good health and continued creative power for the sake of our Gottscheer Community. I also want to be part of these wishes, with the hope you will experience many more years in good health and satisfaction.

And further, the newspaper writes: "This celebrant know all. Until 1996 Ludwig Kren was for 25 years editor of the “Gottscheer Zeitung " (GZ) to which he still regularly contributes - also in Gottscheer dialect - his opinion. For him it is not enough to write these posts, it was not enough for him to produce poems in the Gottscheer language, no - in the last three years he joined the community of authors and has in the summer of this year launched his third work. After the "Reading book" and "And then everything was different", he now published the second edition of his "Memories - Gottschee 1339-1941".

I often read the appeal of Herbert Krauland, chairman of the Gottscheer Arbeitsgemeinschaft: "We need to write our history ourselves". This sentence you repeated as editor regularly in the GZ. By "we" Krauland surely meant his like-minded colleagues and friends to have them write our history according to their perspectives. Surely he did not mean the other "we", those who toil to present our history and the loss of our homeland in a factual light and expose and reject the self-justification of the Gottscheer “enablers” of the resettlement who lied to make the loss of our homeland possible.

And now, after so many years, you finally decided to follow the appeal of Krauland. Being a close friend and former co-worker of the "enablers", it is not hard to imagine what stories you are installing in your books and I suspect that you have not yet freed yourself from the ingrained ideology of their and your past. Regarding this, Dr. Horst Fassel, then chairman of the Südostdeutsche Historische Kommission in Tübingen, Germany writes, in a reply to me, in 1998: "It is the same as what happened after 1949 in most Landsmannschaften in the Federal Republic of Germany; the old positions were maintained. As long as the generation of actors before 1945 were still alive. ... "

The December 2013 issue of the GZ describes your CV. As with anyone in the Gottscheer leadership of those years (further VGL), any participation related to the resettlement is never mentioned and a cloak of silence covers that period. However, what roles you personally played in these "old positions" can all be found in the 1941 editions of the Gottscheer Zeitung. They clearly mention your active participation.

Even prior to the resettlement you functioned as a co-editor of the GZ under Herbert Erker, who up to 1941 was editor of this newspaper and an inner member of the VGL. As such, he was responsible for the dissemination of Nazi propaganda and the coercive pressure on the Gottscheer to resettle into the Reich. He resumed his former role as editor of the GZ in 1962 which re-emerged in Klagenfurt in 1955. And in 1970 Erker was even elected to “Honorary Member" in Gottscheer Associations. When he retired in 1971, you were appointed his successor and maintained the position as editor of the GZ for 25 years. As per Dr. Fassel: "the old positions were maintained ". (You also were elevated to the position of "Honorary Member" 1979 in Gottscheer Associations).

The GZ elaborated further on Ludwig Kren: "It has not been enough to contribute these postings and write many others". Of course not mentioned were your efforts to conceal the role of the "old positions" in the destruction of our ethnic group and its culture, to hide the role of the betrayers and to solidify our history with their self- serving justification. With this our people were being deceived for a second time.

Your efforts in the above were willingly accepted for many years as facts by the faithful now exiled the world over. And the majority of the readers of the GZ found in these efforts a comforting reassurance which reduced the heavy burden of knowing that they were so willingly misled of the "old positions".

Now, these former leaders are being discredited as the veil that hid their deeds are becoming invisible. Even the GZ (May 2011), now under new editorship, helps in this; the deeds which are now being revealed even this publication can no longer deny. It writes:

"The appeal for the resettlement appeared as a headline ‘Heim ins Reich’, [in the 1941 GZ]. A false and misleading claim. The Gottscheer population did not know where to the relocation would take them. To this was added the pressure of the Italian occupying forces which advocated that those who would stay would be sent to Sicily or even to Abyssinia (Ethiopia) ".
(Fact is, the pressure did not come from the Italians but from the VGL via the Gottscheer Zeitung under Herbert Erker). Further, the GZ writes:

"Given the pressure by the VGL, it was no wonder that the majority of Gottscheer decided to relocate in order to maintain, at least, their nationality, their customs and their beliefs. The fact that the re-settlers did not arrive in the “Reich”, but in the occupied Slovene territories of Lower Styria, in the area of Rann/Brežice and Gurkfeld/Krško, was a nasty surprise. We came into an area from the Slovenian residents were forcibly removed”.

"Had the Gottscheer population known that their ‘new’ home was to be in a part of occupied Slovenia, they would certainly have stayed at home and not follow the call for the resettlement. After the war, some of those who were were in charge of the resettlement [i.e. the old positions] were asked why the population was not told where they were going. Their answer: then the Gottscheer would not have moved! It may not be denied that at the time some Gottscheer [the old positions] knew the answer, but concealed it from their people. Sad that they did not tell them”.

"Looking back, it must however be said that through the resettlement, the Gottscheer people were able to save their nationality including their customs, traditions and faith.” So writes Hans-Hermann Frensing in “The resettlement of the Gottscheer Germans”, 1970. Today our people are living allover in the world. They remained Gottscheer and wish to remain so. They will not allow to be accused of having done a wrong. We feel obliged to point out this sad part of our history, although 70 years have already passed since".

Finally something closer to the truth from the GZ.

A reaction to the above came from Ms. Gitte Hübner, daughter of Joseph Dornig, until 1941 Photographer in Gottschee city. Her letter was published in the June 2011 issue of the GZ. She writes:

"The article, ‘Our Opinion’ in the May issue, page 2, has touched me deeply. Of this I know much, however, so precisely I just did not know before. I remember the revelations of my parents. In a few sentences much of what was important was being told what many - especially the younger generation - do not know. I will therefore forward this article to my family for their edification”.

She further writes:
"My parents, surely, did not know where we were going. Regarding the resettlement they transmitted only a very bad feeling, because they knew that we resettling into the unknown. This uncertainty was felt throughout the city. Only those few who gave the speeches to give us courage, probably knew about it. "

So, Frau Hübner is one of many who now knows and has discovered after so many years, that the Gottscheer were betrayed by their former leaders!!

The above-quoted opinion of Frensing made in 1970, was only a personal opinion which he, as a historian, regretted having made. He stated this to me personally after we became friends. But it is frequently and diligently used by the apologists as self- serving justification.

The fact is, the resettlement caused "our culture with its customs and traditions" to be destroyed. The following show that:

1. Excepting the few resettlers still alive, (all with one foot in the grave), no one can still speak our dialect, the only indicator of the Gottscheer as an ethnic German group. However, it is fact that the those who stayed in Gottschee which you, Ludwig Kren, once called "Odpadniki" or rejectionists (see The Bells Ring No More, page 270), even today still speak, daily, our dialect. And with the death of these two groups, the final end of the Gottschee as an ethnic group will be sealed.

2. And only a handful of the descendants of those who left and a few of the leaders of US based Gottscheer associations living in America, are still in command of the German language. Only they read, mostly for sentimental reasons, the ever becoming thinner GZ whose content is dominated by clichés, sentimental reports and obituaries. And the majority of the younger descendants, worldwide, show little interest and pride in our history. And justly so.

3. Regarding "Customs and Traditions". These were not unique to the Gottscheer. Almost all existed and still do so in the Slovene surroundings of the former linguistic island. And the descendants of our generation who, nowadays eagerly visit Slovenia, are thrilled with its customs and traditions, so similar to that of their parents; Kreinerwurst, Strudel, Pobolitzn, Krapfen, bloodwurst, and familiar Gottschee songs adapted from the Slovene. (See Dà Màrarin, in the Kočevski Zbornik, page 185).

4. And regarding the Catholic faith. Frensing, on page 86 of his book, quotes the dogma of the VGL as expressed in 1941. “Catholicism is treated in the inner leadership circle as universalistic worldview that must be eradicated". As an intimate of Lampeter, Lackner, Erker and others of VGL, this formulation is certainly not unknown to you. Were you also their opinion, you could today easily be called a cooperator in this extermination attempt.

Yet none of the former leaders of the VGL and their coworkers, have until now found the desire to apologize for the destruction of the Gottscheer people. You included. Or apologized to those Slovene who were driven out to make room for us. Admission is but an act of "Catholicism"; a fundamental and basic part of the catholic faith. But not for those who’s the aim was the stated objective "to eradicate" the faith. It seems none have freed themselves of the destructive ideology that caused the demise of the Gottscheer Germans.
But back to your self-published books. For whom and why do you write so zealously in your nineties and what is it that you want to achieve? And who are the readers?

Reputable historians surely not. Unless you accurately report on the events of those days. Of the concealment and self-justification, exercised by the "old positions", such historians have long been aware of. Or are your efforts mainly an attempt to solidify the perspectives of these "old positions".

Some of these questions are so obvious I can answer them myself.

Your writing will only be read by the few remaining handful of Gottscheer who know the language. The non-German-speaking majority cannot be reached by your writings.
And it will not be read by the new generation, i.e. the descendants of those who have tried (and continue to do so) to deny and cover up the reckless acceptance of the resettlement option. Or are ashamed to reveal to their offspring that they were betrayed by their ideological leaders. This new generation has little interest in perspectives which the "old positions" tried to maintain for decades. Especially now as the irrefutable causes and facts have come to light.

Many of the offspring have, however, a great interest in an impartially presented Gottscheer history and in the facts of the resettlement which were so carefully denied them for so many years, have become available. Especially now when independent new books and the Internet have made factual history available to all. Books from authors such as - Karl Markus Gauss, - HH Frensing, - Alenka Auersperger, -Mitja Ferenc, - J. Tschinkel” are examples. And on the Internet is the PhD dissertation http://othes.univie.ac.at/8195/1/2009-12-16_9911349.pdf, of Dr. Georg Marschnig at the University of Vienna covering identity management by post war Gottscheer as well as a website http://www.gottschee.de/ produced and edited by Josef Gladitsch, son of a Gottscheer from Niedertiefenbach.

It is noteworthy that most of the above publications and postings are either in German or Slovene. Those written in English generally moan sentimentally about our lost culture, stress victimhood, deny any participation in the resettlement and hide any involvement with National Socialist ideology.

So, Ludwig Kren, as the last of the "enablers" and one of those who hid their deeds, it is not too late to submit yourself to a catharsis and thereby admit your complicity in persuading the Gottscheer to give up their homeland for nothing more than a promise. You will be thanked for such a bold step and you will be forgiven for your youthful mistake, as well as for the many attempts to conceal and distort the facts. As an impressionable youth, overwhelmed by the false and coercive ideology of the time, you had little notion of the size of the evolving tragedy in which you actively participated. But today, after so many years, it should be possible for you to look at these deeds with a new perspective and find the courage to admit your misguided youthful zeal in the destruction of our people. Repent your former zeal and apologize to the victims. You owe this to your people. As is said, confession is a Christian act - - - rewarded with forgiveness.

John Tschinkel, Vero beach, 07/24/2014
John Tschinkel
 
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