Els Slots (The Netherlands):
The Franja Partisan Hospital could have become such a good addition to the WH List. It's a unique reminder of the Slovenian resistant movement during World War II. In remote, mountaineous locations they constructed small hospitals to care for the wounded Partisans and Allied forces. These were clandestine operations, and their locations were kept top secret. Injured soldiers were blindfolded before being transported to these sites.
Unfortunately, disaster struck on 18 September 2007. The hospital was hit by a devastating flood. It swept away all barracks except for one, and the original furniture and hospital instruments went with it. Since then, the hospital has been rebuilt and it opened again to visitors in 2010. What you see now are replicas of everything.
Making good use of my rental car I visited the Franja Partisan Hospital on a sunny Saturday morning. It lies close to the hamlet Dolenji Novaki, but is not signposted from there. Fortunately I came across a large sign later on from the main road towards the town of Cerkno. Nowadays the former hospital still lies in a remote location. There's a small car park and a café downstairs, but from there you have to hike uphill for 10 minutes on a forest and mountain trail. Along the route there are information panels in Slovenian and English. Also you can still see the remains of a watchpost, half-hidden among the rocks. The canyon that gives access to the hospital was heavily guarded during the war .
You wonder how many visitors come here every day, but there is a real ticket counter set up. Access costs 4 EUR . For that you can enter the 14 barracks. In each of the wooden buildings explanation is given what it was: a ward, operating theatre or kitchen for example. The staff also lived on the property. The hospital was well cared for, there was ample food smuggled in and they even had an x-ray machine. That machine also fell victim to the 2007 flooding. What you see now are reproductions or similar devices / objects from elsewhere. This lack of authenticity will greatly reduce the chances of a future world heritage status, I suspect. What remains is a 'lieux de memoire'. To me it was a very interesting visit, and it's certainly worth a detour if you're driving around in Slovenia.
Date posted: June 2014
Have you been to Franja Partisan Hospital? Share your experiences!