The Study Centre for National Reconciliation, the Municipality of Kamnik, and the Society Demos from Kamnik have jointly organized a memorial commemoration in remembrance of August 23 – the European Day of Remembrance for victims of all totalitarian and authoritarian regimes. The commemoration took place on Monday, 27 August 2012, at Ursuline monastery in Mekinje near Kamnik.

This year the ceremony was dedicated to the memory of Slovenian man and boys, who were forcibly mobilized to the German army during World War II.

The keynote speaker was prof. dr. Janez Juhant, Slovene theologian, philosopher and educator, a member of the European Academy of Sciences and Arts. In his speech he stressed the importance of finding historical truth “that will liberate us”. Dr. Juhant also emphasized the importance of respecting each human life. It is necessary nowadays to establish the system requirements for the rehabilitation of the victims and for our common future.  The speaker also pointed out that a common characteristic of all totalitarian regimes was ignorance of human destinies. Human life in totalitarian systems had no price, people were just numbers with little chance of survival. He also shared with us his personal experience and destiny of some of his family members.

Other speakers at the memorial commemoration were prof. Janez Žmavc, president of Association of prisoners in war camps – stolen children, and Leon Janežič, president of the Association of Slovenians, who were mobilized into the German army from 1941 to 1945.

In a video message, the audience was welcomed by Tunne Kelam, MEP, and Göran Lindblad, president of the Platform of European Memory and Conscience. Both highlighted the pain and suffering of millions of Europeans who have been exposed to totalitarian and authoritarian regimes, and stressed that it is necessary to deal with historical events and continue the search for truth.

The speeches were followed by a short documentary film “Soldiers letter”, a story about Slovenian man and boys, who were forcibly mobilized to the German army. The film was produced by the Study Centre for National Reconciliation.

Many of the highest representatives of Slovene secular and church authorities attended the commemoration: Janez Janša, Prime Minister of the Republic of Slovenia, Ljudmila Novak, Minister for Slovenians Abroad, Aleš Hojs, Minister for Defence, Vinko Gorenak, Minister of the Interior, Zdenka Čebašek Travnik, Human Rights Ombudsman, dr. Milan Zver, Member of the European Parliament and other representatives of Slovene political and cultural life. The memorial commemoration was very well-attended and received wide media coverage.

By commemorating August 23 we tried to contribute to the European remembrance of totalitarian and authoritarian regimes and emphasize the importance of respecting fundamental human rights, freedoms and the rule of law.