December 10, 2003
Joseph .E. Kaufmann, MA
Adjunct Faculty, History Dept.
Palo Alto College
Wanda H. Kaufmann, Ph.D
Professor, Foriegn Languages Dept.
San Antonio College
Mrs. Ernesta Drole, prof. zg. in soc.
Zavod za varstvo kulturne dedi1čine Slovenije
OE Nova Gorica
Dear Mrs Drole,
We are military historians and authors of FORTRESS EUROPE, FORTRESS
THIRD REICH and MEDIEVAL FORTRESS, all of which include material on
Slovenia's fortifications. We also are the founders of the
international fortifications group known as SITEO which includes several
world wide regional branches including one being operated in Slovenia.
We are writing about the fortifications in the Milanja
vicinity. We were informed that the local government of the town of
Ilirska Bistrica was considering the destruction of these sites. As
the representatives of one of the largest international groups devoted to
fortifications we would like to make a few comments.
For most people enthusiastic about military history the only way they
can see anything related to wars, battles or campaigns is usually in a
museum, especially when it comes to 20th century warfare. This is
because the battlefields are now too large and heavily changed by time
and man so that the historian and enthusiast can only visit museums to
see the relics such as tanks, weapons, etc. For modern warfare one
element that will never be found in museums and is less often seen -
that is the fortifications. These have to be seen where they were built
and become a permanent part of the history of a region.
Slovenia has been crossroads of history for centuries and today
ancient fortifications from Roman through modern can be found there.
Surely nobody in your country would consider destroying the old Roman
fortifications, altough the post-Roman populations did that themselves
because they did not forsee the cultural value of them and certainly had
no interest in tourism. So why destroy the modern fortifications which
offer even greater potential for encouraging tourism among military
Your country includes not only the Yugsolsavian fortifications of the
Rupnik Line, but large sections of the Italian Vallo Alpino (including
at Milanja) and even German and Italian blockhouses used against the
Partisans. I have already seen examples of all the types that have been
destroyed in your country, but to what advantage is their destruction?
They occupy relatively little space and the need for their removal is
not imperative although some may consider them unsightly, many tourists
consider them objects of interest.
Slovenia is a realtively small country in size compared to France,
Germany or Poland and all of the fortifications in your country, unlike
those larger nations, are within a reasonable distance that a person can
stay in one location and visit many of these sites over a short period
of time. The nine Italian forts that made up a second position in
Milanja had a rather interesting history. The Italians occupied them up
1943 and then the Germans took over. The Germans abandoned and
partially destroyed them because of Partisan activity in 1944 and then
returned to these positions in the next year to defend them.
We have visited the area and these forts are clustered in a relatively
open hilly and attractive region which can be easily visited. Many
positions of the Vallo Alpino in Italy are located high up in the Alps,
and although the Italian government has not destroyed them, they are
difficult for the average tourist to visit. Those Italian positions at
Milanja are much more easily visited and that is another reason the area
should be left the way it is open for tourism, recreation and part of
the national heritage. It would be a pity not to maintain and develope
this area for tourism.
For that matter the remainder of the fortifications in Slovenia should
be protected so that your government can use them to make your country a
major area for visits and research by military enthusiasts and