Gottscheer Zeitung - "Difficulties for our Altsiedler"

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Abgeschickt von John Tschinkel am 08 Mai, 2005 um 09:33:29:

Open Letter to the Gottscheer Zeitung.

Under "Difficulties for our Altsiedler", the Gottscheer Zeitung (GZ) on page 9 of the April 2005 issue, I and others who resist the corrosive politics of the Gottscheer Arbeitsgemeinschaft (AG) under Viktor Michitsch were sharply attacked. This attack accuses us with spreading "false assertions, actually lies". These accusations demand an energetic rejection, made easy through documented facts and unquestionable explanations.

In this article, the GZ quotes a report from von August Gril, Chairman of the Gottscheer Altsiedler Verein (AV) in Slovenia. The Altsiedler Verein is a member of the AG, headquartered in Klagenfurt, Austria with the chairman of the AG, Viktor Michitsch being responsible for the content of the GZ. Other members of the AG are Gottscheer groups in Germany, Canada and the USA, including the GHGA. As active members, they implicitly endorse the politics of the AG.

The Article and the report from Gril, however, paints in a broader picture, the failure of the politics of Viktor Michitsch and the AG. This is evident from the fact that two of the three German organizations in Slovenia have broken relations with the AG; the latest being the withdrawal from the AG of the Gottscheer Peter Kozler Verein by unanimous vote of its membership. The "Freiheitsbrücke" severed all relations some time ago.

Articles in the GZ desperately attempt to hide the failure of the politics of Arbeitsgemeinschaft. Their leaders do this by reacting vehemently against all those who bring the destructiveness of this to light. And in Slovenia, August Gril attempts to do this with legal maneuvering which only further publicizes his true intentions.

* * *

In his report Mr. Gril displays his hostility against those who see his politics as counterproductive not only against his State, his homeland and his neighbors, but also against the very objective he purports to pursue. He claims his objective is to keep alive the German heritage of members in his Gottscheer Altsiedler Verein. Unfortunately, Mr. Grill has never produced a listing these members nor shown a group picture of them. All we ever see are pictures of a dozen children he parades in front of various visitors from abroad. This leads to the inescapable conclusion that the Altsiedler Verein is no more than a front for the personal ambitions of Mr. Gril and the corrosive politics of Viktor Michitsch and his "Honored Members", (some of them former SS officers and fanatical Nazis), toward the Slovene State.

Specifically, Mr. Gril cites five incidents which he uses to support his fantasies:

1. The "Affair" over the display of the German flag.
2. Radio broadcast of a Slovene journalist.
3. Accusation by the Chairman of the "Freiheitsbrücke".
4. Publication of a book by a Slovene author.
5. "Stab in the back" by the Chairman of "Peter Kosler Verein".

* * *

Claim 1: The enforced removal of the German flag at his public meting house in January 2000 was against the law. The law, prohibiting the display of a foreign flag had been obsoleted six years prior.

The Media raised a lot of dust over his raising the German flag, but he has proof the major, the police and John Tschinkel were in error, however, no apology had jet been received.

Fact is: Gril’s claim that the law was changed six years ago is false. The law was adopted in 1974, validated by the Parliament of Slovenia in 1994 and again in 2003. Accordingly, Article 8, defining the law regarding the display of foreign flags, at the time of the forced removal in 2000, was:

Zakon o prekrških zoper javni red in mir, ki prav tako v tretjem odstavku 8. člena, (Uradni list RS, št. 110/O3-prečiščeno besedilo) določa:

· Zastave tujih držav se smejo izobesiti samo z dovoljenjem za notranje zadeve pristojnega upravnega organa občine ali na splošen poziv.

[The flags of foreign states may only be displayed with the permission of the municipal authority responsible for internal affairs or pursuant to a public call for display].

It is clear that August Gril defends his illegal action by distorting the truth. His claim, that he has proof that major France Vouk, the police and John Tschinkel were wrong, is plainly false. No apology was necessary from anyone except August Gril. The affair would have been forgotten had August Gril and the Gottscheer Zeitung not turned it into an "International Incident" for their political purposes. With this they clearly displayed their aggressive politics toward the Slovene citizen and the law of the land.

The illegal display of the foreign flag was viewed by the surrounding Slovene neighbors as an open disregard for their sensitivities, many of them remembering the day in April of 1941, when the Fascist invaders took down all flags and replaced them with their own. The Slovene also remember that 1.7 million Yugoslavs died (according to official statistics), to remove the swastika in 1945 and raise their own flag again.

Claim 2: Alenka Auersperger, a Slovene Journalist had, in a Radio Slovenia broadcast, spread falsehoods about Gril and his Altsiedler Verein and attempted to incite his Slovene neighbors against him.

Fact is: August Gril and Doris Debenjak, filed suit against Mm. Auersperger for defamation and malicious incitement. The suit was dismissed by the court as frivolous and the accusers required to pay all court costs. In the hearings, a number of distinguished witnesses testified on behalf of the accused. In contrast, the Gril/Debenjak accusers produced no witnesses to testify on their behalf.

In the court hearings, August Gril testified, under oath, that as a result of the radio broadcast and associated press coverage, he lost a majority of his business customers and is now avoided by his family and his sons and the people in his community. This sad sworn testimony did not influence the court and the suit was dismissed.

Sad indeed. All Auersperger did was to translate into Slovene the articles printed in the Gottscheer Zeitung and placed them into a historical context. These articles described the meetings of Gril with leading former Gottscheer Nazis in various parts of Germany and Austria to jointly formulate policy regarding Slovenia. At these meetings were Wilhelm Lampeter (the SS officer in Buchenwald), Richard Lackner (in the special SS unit formed to guard the attempted retreat of Hitler’s intimates to the "Alpenfestung") and Ludwig Kren, intimate friend of Lampeter/Lackner and now tutor of the children in Gril’s Altsiedler Verein. All "Honored Members" in the Arbeitsgemeinschaft under Viktor Michitsch who was present at these meetings.

Claim 3: The Chairman of the International Verein "Freiheitsbrücke" in Maribor submitted an accusation to the Slovene Interior Ministry that "Gril and his Verein work against the State". Gril claims the accusation was flatly rejected by the Ministry.

Fact is: As is usual, Gril (like Viktor Michitsch) tells only part of the story and that which he tells is distorted and devoid of facts. Again, he presents no proof of the rejection by the Ministry.

The "Freiheitsbrücke" is an association of German/Slovene living in the Maribor region. It was formed by Ludwig Kolnik its Chairman, to maintain the German heritage. This association maintained good relations with the Gottscheer Arbeitsgemeinschaft under Michitsch. But when Kolnik and the officers of the "Freiheitsbrücke" discovered that the Arbeitsgemeinschaft included former Nazis and SS men as "Advisers" and "Honored Members", all relations were severed with the AG. Since then, Michitsch has been trying to unseat Kolnik as Chairman, without success.

Claim 4: In November 2004, the publishing house Modrijan in Ljubljana released a book written by Alenka Auersperger entitled "Iskalci Grala" (Seekers of the Grail). The claim is that the book insults Gottscheer everywhere and that everything German is defamed as being Nazi. "All would be right if we did not speak or learn German and Gottscheer and if we did not maintain our Gottscheer culture".

Fact is: The book was sponsored by the Slovene Ministry of Culture and contains a collection of facts and comments describing in part, the connection of the "Honored Members" with the Nazis in 1930/40’s. It also shows the current influence of the Michitsch Arbeitsgemeinschaft and other extreme right wing groups of Austria on August Gril.

The claim about speaking or learning German and maintaining Gottscheer culture is as absurd as it is untrue. Throughout Slovenia, students are learning German because of the intimate relations with the Federal Republic of Germany. In Ljubljana, the bookstores are full of books in German.

Claim 5: This claim, (part of the Gril letter), was not published in the Zeitung since Michitsch obviously does wish to publicize jet another rift in the AG.

In the last paragraph of his letter, Gril writes of the pain caused him by his own people; Gottscheer who stab him in the back. He refers to Erik Krisch, the Chairman of the Gottscheer/Slovene Peter Kozler Verein, cooperating with Auersperger by giving her a letter from Doris Debenjak, part of which she quotes in her book. The letter contains words "tending the German language, the Gottscheer dialect, the maintenance of the German character". [But it also says things which Gril and Michitsch did not wish to make public]. Gril claims that: "according to Slovene criminal laws, the publication of private letters without permission by the writer is a punishable offense". He says: "Erik will appear before the court on March 23, to testify against us. Not only against us, but against all Gottscheer in Slovenia and the whole world who all are Nazis, according to Alenka Auersperger".

Fact is: Gril and Debenjak took legal action against the publisher of "Iskalci Grala" to temporarily stop the sale of the book, a bestseller in Slovenia. The charge is that the publisher allowed the release of the book, containing a quote from a letter by Gril to Kolnik and a quote from Debenjak to Erik Krisch without first having obtained approval from the writers of the letter.

The court requested the testimony of both Ludvik Kolnik and Erik Krisch. Both testified, under oath, that they provided the quote to Auersperger. And the legal defense of the publisher is simply that the writer of either letter, given to Auersperger did not inform Kolnik or Krisch that the letters are confidential. The court temporarily stopped further sale of the book pending evaluation of the charge.

However, a large number had been sold already and are now, due to the heightened interest, being passed from reader to reader.

It is therefore not surprising that the GZ withheld this part of the Gril letter because it demonstrates the schism, underway within the Arbeitsgemeinschaft. The "Freiheitsbrücke" has already severed all links to the AG. And in a letter dated April 23, the members of the Peter Kozler Verein voted unanimously to withdraw from the AG. The letter, in German, gives detailed reasons but the main reason is the damaging politics of the AG, not acceptable by either the Peter Kozler Verein or the Slovene population.

* * *

There is great tragedy in all this, predictable after unrepentant former Gottscheer Nazis were allowed to join the postwar Gottscheer leadership circles. Those individuals, who before our exodus fomented hatred of our Slovene neighbors to achieve their Hitler ordered objectives, again work their corrosive and impossible politics to divide the Gottscheer community and alienate us with the Slovene nation and its citizen. Without these politics, the Gottscheer and others of German descent in Slovenia could have stayed united to effectively maintain their culture and their heritage. Unfortunately, this is now no longer the case.

John Tschinkel, 4/26/2005


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