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Fairfield woman experiences liberation
 real and staged

(9/20) Watching the “liberation” of Emmitsburg from Nazis on Sept. 15 brought back memories for Ivanka Antolin of her hometown’s real liberation from the Nazi’s on May 1, 1945.

“First they came with the tanks and then they came with the trucks and then the jeeps,” Antolin said. “It was very much like it was here but without the tanks.”

Troops from the 4th Infantry Division Military Police Platoon (recreated) liberated Emmitsburg from the Nazis on Sept. 15. Residents lined the streets to welcome the troops in the way French villagers would have in 1944. They also presented the soldiers with French bread and wine (sparkling apple cider) while the soldiers handed out candy and gum to children. The soldiers were on their way to the Eisenhower National Historic Site’s WWII weekend.

Antolin’s hometown was Gorizia, Yugoslavia. She was 20 years old when Australian troops came up a river from Trieste and into Gorizia. The Germans had already retreated and abandoned the town two days earlier.

“We were hoping that the Allies would liberate Slovenia, but they didn’t do anything. They stopped,” Antolin said.

Gorizia was on the Italy-Yugoslavia border. Under the Yalta Agreement, Italy became a republic but Slovenia, as part of Yugoslavia, fell under Communist control.

“We were exhausted from the war and really looking forward to being liberated,” Antolin said.

Instead what happened is that the Communists began to arrest anyone they believed had supported the partisans during the war. Antolin’s sister was arrested. Her mother would eventually be arrested and serve two years in prison. Her father would be executed.

“The persecution at the beginning was just enormous,” Antolin said.

Antolin escaped into Italy two days after her town’s liberation and became a refugee who eventually ended up in Fairfield.

She remains disappointed that the Allies only liberated part of her town and that Slovenian independence did not truly happen until 1991 with the fall of the Berlin Wall.

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