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Primo Trubar France Pre eren The Sower (1907) by the Impressionist painter Ivan Grohar is a metaphore for the Slovenes as a vigorous nation in front of an uncertain future[1] and a nation that sows in order that it could harvest.[2] The Slovenes, Slovene people, Slovenians, or Slovenian people (Slovene Slovenci, dual Slovenca, singular Slovenec, feminine Slovenke, dual Slovenki, singular Slovenka) are the smallest, the westernmost and the northernmost of South Slavic peoples. They mainly live in Slovenia and speak the Slovene language.



Most Slovenes today live within the borders of the independent Slovenia (2,007,711 est. 2008). There are autochthonous Slovene minorities in northeastern parts of Italy (estimated at 83,000 100,000),[3] southern Austria (24,855), Croatia (13,200) and Hungary (3,180). Slovenes are recognized as national minorities in all four countries with which Slovenia shares a land border (Austria, Croatia, Hungary and Italy).

In the Slovenian national census of 2002, 1,631,363 people ethnically declared themselves as Slovenes,[4] while 1,723,434 people claimed Slovene as their native language.[5]

The total number of Slovenes in Austria is 24,855, of whom 17,953 are representatives of the Slovene national minority, while 6,902 are foreign nationals.[6]


Early Alpine Slavs

In 6th century, Slavic peoples settled the region between the Alps and the Adriatic Sea in two consecutive migration waves: the first wave took place around 550 and came from the Moravian lands, while the second wave, coming from the southeast, took place after the retreat of the Lombards to Italy in 568 (see Slavic settlement of Eastern Alps).

From 623 to 658, Slavic peoples between the upper Elbe River and the Karavanke mountain range were united under the leadership of King Samo (Kralj Samo) in what was to become known as "Samo's Tribal Union". The tribal union collapsed after Samo's death, but a smaller Slavic tribal principality Carantania (Slovene: Karantanija) remained, with its centre in the present-day region of Carinthia.

Alpine Slavs during the Frankish Empire

Due to pressing danger of Avar tribes from the east, Carantanians accepted union with Bavarians in 745 and later recognized Frankish rule and accepted Christianity in the 8th century. The last Slavic state formation in the region, the principality of Prince Kocelj, lost its independence in 874. Slovene ethnic territory subsequently shrank due to pressing of Germans from the west and the arrival of Hungarians in the Pannonian plain, and stabilized in the present form in the 15th century.

Slovenes between the 18th century and the Second World War

Slovene lands were part of the Illyrian provinces, the Austrian Empire and Austria-Hungary (in Cisleithania).

Many Slovenes emigrated to the United States at the turn of the 20th century, mostly for economic reasons. Those who settled in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, came to be called Windish, the Pennsylvania "Dutch" version of the traditional German term "Wends". But they prefer to be called Slovene Americans.

The largest group of Slovenes eventually settled in Cleveland, Ohio, and the surrounding area. The second-largest group settled in Chicago, principally on the Lower West Side. The American Slovenian Catholic Union (Ameri ko slovenska katoli ka enota) was founded as an organization to protect Slovene-American rights in Joliet, Illinois, and Cleveland. Today there are KSKJ branches all over the country offering life insurance and other services to Slovene-Americans. Freethinkers were centered around 18th and Racine Ave. in Chicago, where they founded the Slovene National Benefit Society; other Slovene immigrants went to southwestern Pennsylvania, southeastern Ohio and the state of West Virginia to work in the coal mines and lumber industry. Some Slovenes also went to the Pittsburgh or Youngstown, Ohio, areas, to work in the steel mills, as well as Minnesota's Iron Range, to work in the iron mines.

After the First World War (1914 1918), the majority of Slovenes joined other South Slavs in the State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs, followed by the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, and finally the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. In the new system of banovinas (since 1929), Slovenes formed a majority in the Drava Banovina.

Especially after Benito Mussolini came to power in 1922, the violent Fascist Italianization of Slovene and Croatian populations and ethnic cleansing policies were under no international restraint in the areas populated by Slovenes that were given to Italy in exchange for joining Great Britain in the World War I. During the period of occupation between years 1918 and 1920, all Slovene cultural associations (Sokol, "reading rooms" etc) had been forbidden[7] Running the ethnic cleansing policy, Fascist Italy brought Italian teachers from South Italy to Italianize ethnic Slovene and Croatian children, while the Slovene and Croatian teachers, poets, writers, artists and clergy were exiled to Sardinia and elsewhere to South Italy. In 1926, claiming that it was restoring surnames to their original Italian form, the Italian government announced the Italianization of names and surnames not only of citizens of the Slovene minority, but also of Croatian and German.[8][9] Some Slovenes have under these circumstances "willingly" accepted Italianization in order to stop being a second-class citizens without upward social mobility. By the mid 1930s, around 70.000 Slovenes had fled the region, mostly to Yugoslavia and South America.

In the bilingual regions people of Carinthia decided in a 1920 referendum that most of Carinthia should remain in Austria.

Slovene volunteers also participated in the First World War with the French Armed Forces, the Spanish Civil War, the Second Italo-Abyssinian War and in the Soviet Red Army in the fall of Berlin to defeated Nazi Germany.

Slovenes during and after World War II

Yugoslavia was invaded by Axis Powers on 6 April 1941 after a coup d' tat in the Yugoslav government ended Yugoslavia's participation in the Tripartite Pact and enraged Adolf Hitler. Territory in Yugoslavia was quickly divided between German, Italian, and Hungarian control, and the Nazis soon annexed Lower Styria as Untersteiermark to the "Greater Reich". About 46,000 Slovenes in the Rann (Bre ice) Triangle region were forcibly deported to eastern Germany for potential Germanization or forced labor beginning in November 1941.

On 27 April 1941 in Ljubljana the National Liberation Front was organized with aim of liberation struggle, forming Slovene partisan army, and structures of future state in liberated areas. More than 30.000 partisans died fighting Axis forces and their collaborators, during the WWII approximately 8 percent of Slovenes perished.

Some Slovenes also collaborated with the occupying powers, with the German-sponsored Slovene Home Guard having 21000 members at the peak of its power.

The deported Slovenes were taken to several camps in Saxony, where they were forced to work on German farms or in factories run by German industries from 1941 1945. The forced labourers were not always kept in formal concentration camps, but often just vacant buildings where they slept until the next day's labour took them outside these quarters. Toward the end of the war, these camps were liberated by American and Soviet Army troops, and later repatriated refugees returned to Yugoslavia to find their homes in shambles.

In 1945, Yugoslavia liberated itself and shortly thereafter became a nominally federal Communist state. Slovenia joined the federation as a socialist republic; its own Communist Party having been formed in 1937.

Most of Carinthia remained part of Austria and around 42,000 Slovenes (per 1951 population census) were recognized as a minority and have enjoyed special rights following the Austrian State Treaty (Staatsvertrag) of 1955. The Slovenes in the Austrian state of Styria (4,250)[6] are not recognized as a minority and do not enjoy special rights, although the State Treaty of 27 July 1955 states otherwise.

Many of the rights required by the 1955 State Treaty are still to be fully implemented. There is also an undercurrent of thinking amongst parts of the population that the Slovene involvement in the partisan war against the Nazi occupation force was a bad thing, and indeed "Tito partisan" is a not an infrequent insult hurled by members of the minority. Many Carinthians are (quite irrationally) afraid of Slovene territorial claims, pointing to the fact that Yugoslav troops entered the state after each of the two World Wars. The former governor, J rg Haider, regularly played the Slovene card when his popularity started to dwindle, and indeed relied on the strong anti-Slovene attitudes in many parts of the province for his power base. Another interesting phenomenon is for some German speakers to refuse to accept the minority as Slovenes at all, referring to them as Windische, an ethnicity distinct from Slovenes (a claim which linguists reject on the basis that the dialects spoken are by all standards a variant of the Slovene language).

Yugoslavia acquired some territory from Italy after WWII but some 100,000 Slovenes remained behind the Italian border, notably around Trieste and Gorizia.

In 1991, Slovenia became an independent nation state after a brief ten day war.


The earliest documents written in a Slovene dialect are the Freising manuscripts (Bri inski spomeniki), dated between 972 and 1022, found in 1803 in Freising, Germany. The first books printed in Slovene were Catechismus and Abecedarium, written by the Protestant reformer Primo Trubar in 1550 and printed in T bingen, Germany. Jurij Dalmatin translated the Bible into Slovene in 1584. In the second half of the 16th century Slovene became known to other European languages with the multilingual dictionary, compiled by Hieronymus Megiser.


The disintegration of Yugoslavia during the late 1980s and the formation of independent Slovenia in the early 1990s motivated interest in a particularly Slovenian national identity. One reflection of this was an attempt at the rejection of a Slavic identity in favour of a "Venetic" one. The autochthonist (protochronist) "Venetic theory" was advanced in the mid 1980s, but it never gained wide currency. The identification with Slavic roots remains strong in Slovenia and in 2004 even led to the establishment of the Forum of Slavic Cultures in Ljubljana.

In the late 1980s, several symbols from the Middle Ages were revived as Slovenian national symbols. Among them, the most popular are the so-called Slovene Hat which featured in the coat of arms of the Slovene March, and the Black Panther, a reconstruction of the supposed coat of arms of the Carolingian duchy of Carantania. After being used in the Flag of Slovenia, the graphical representation of Triglav has become recognised as a national symbol. Per the Constitution of Slovenia and the Slovenian act on national symbols, the flag of the Slovene nation is a white-blue-red flag without the coat-of-arms. The ratio of the width to height of the flag is one to two.[10]

See also


External links


The origin of Slovenes

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