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Kočevje coat of arms Map of Slovenia, position of Kočevje highlighted
Basic data
Country SloveniaSlovenia Slovenia
Historic region Lower Carniola / Dolenjska
Statistical region Jugovzhodna Slovenija (Southeast Slovenia)
Coordinates 45 ° 38 '  N , 14 ° 52'  E Coordinates: 45 ° 38 '23 "  N , 14 ° 51' 41"  E
height 468  m. i. J.
surface 555.4  km²
Residents 16,184 (2014)
Population density 29 inhabitants per km²
Telephone code (+386) 1
Post Code 1330
License Plate LJ
Structure and administration
Mayor : Vladimir Prebilič
Mailing address Ljubljanska cesta 26
1330 Kočevje

Kočevje ( German  Gottschee , Gottscheerisch : Göttscheab or Gətscheab , Italian: Cocevie ) is the name of a city and the associated municipality (občina) in central or southern Slovenia . The community, located in a very heavily forested area, has 16,184 inhabitants and an area of ​​555 km² (January 1, 2014). The main town of the same name is located on the Rinse ( Rinža ) river in the middle of a karst field (Kočevsko polje) and has 8,868 inhabitants (2002). The area is, among other things, a refuge for brown bears . The Gottscheer Land was a German language island that existed until 1941 within the closed Slovene language area.


Gottschee originated in the first three decades of the 14th century when the House of Ortenburg (a county in Upper Carinthia ) settled German colonists in this area, mainly from Tyrol and Carinthia. At that time they cleared the primeval forest in the Horn Forest ( Kočevski Rog ) area. In 1377 the place was mentioned as a village with market rights. In the 15th and 16th centuries, attacks and looting by the Turks increased. After being pillaged by the Turks in 1461, Gottschee was rebuilt and received city ​​rights in 1471 . To protect the city, a city ​​wall was built during this time , but it was demolished again in the 18th century so that the city could expand.

Among the oldest and most respected bourgeois families of Gottschees were the: Erber (later barons of Erberg), Peer (noble since 1599), Tschinkel, Plassmann (noble since 1630), Schletterer, Schikowitz / Sukowitz (noble since 1712), Jager, Ramor, Verderber , Erker, Egger, Khern, Loy, Walisch, Hütter, Rankhel etc., all of which belonged to the Gottscheer bourgeoisie before 1574.

Due to the severe devastation caused by the Turks, Emperor Friedrich III granted in 1492 . von Habsburg gave the residents of Gottschee as well as the Reifnitzers the peddler patent for trading in domestic products, cattle and field crops. In 1515 Gottscheer farmers killed Baron Thurn and his keeper Stersen, so that Gottschee became the focus of the Windischen Peasants' War , which was put down with great difficulty. A later attempt by the Gottscheer farmers to take over the property by buying it failed.

In 1618 Baron Johann Jakob acquired Khisl Gottschee, which four years later became the seat of the count . In 1641 the Auersperger took over the county from his adopted son of the Zwickel family and subsequently built a mighty castle in the city. In 1791 the Auersperger received the title Duke of Gottschee .

In 1872 the German-speaking Gottschee grammar school was opened in the city.

In 1893 Gottschee was connected to the rail network. This made it possible to mine the brown coal occurring in the area . A sawmill was built in the nearby Hornwald, which was connected to Straža on the opposite side of the ridge on the opposite side of the mountain range via a standard-gauge small railway (Hornwaldbahn) . Numerous Slovenian immigrants worked in the lignite opencast mine and in the Hornwald sawmill.

In 1900 the town of Gottschee had 2,421 inhabitants. Of these, 2,025 were German (84%) and 255 Slovenian (11%).

Kingdom of Yugoslavia

With the establishment of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, later the Kingdom of Yugoslavia , the Slovenian name Kočevje became the city's only official name. The language of instruction at the Gottschee grammar school was Slovenian. German-speaking teachers and officials were fired and left the city in large numbers. The first census in 1921 in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia already showed a Slovene-speaking majority for the town of Gottschee. In most of the rural regions of the language island, however, the Gottscheer dialect continued to dominate.

As a result of the economic crisis, the Hornwalder sawmill was closed in the 1930s and the small train was torn down, so that many people lost their jobs. Against the background of a deliberate preference for Slovenes over ethnic Germans by the authorities, the differences between the two language groups intensified. National Socialist propaganda found increasing acceptance among the Gottscheers.

Second World War

The history of the Gottscheers is an example of the abuse of national minorities . The inhabitants ( Gottscheers ), who were mostly German or of German origin during the Second World War , became - like the South Tyroleans  - the subject of political negotiations between Hitler and Mussolini . The reason was that the occupied Kingdom of Yugoslavia (and therefore Slovenia) was divided between the victors during World War II.

German-born family affected by the resettlement in an ID card in Gottschee, 1941

As a result of the negotiations, Hitler renounced Unterrain . With this, the Gottschee came under Italian administration, similar to the coastal region of Slovenia and Ljubljana . As a result, most of the Gottscheer residents were resettled deeper in the “Reich” between November 1941 and January 1942. The new settlement area should be in the annexed Lower Styria or in Germany. In Styria, the Gottscheers received farms from Slovenes who were again self-driven. Of the 600 or so Germans who stayed behind (around four percent), many joined the partisans . The Slovenian historian Zdravko Troha reports on this, but it is also described, for example, in the Slovenian weekly political magazine Mladina .

Most of the former German settlements were already deliberately destroyed by the Italian occupiers and nature took the land back. The area remained deserted.

Due to the possibility of hiding in the dense forests of Kočevje and covering long distances, the partisans maintained a partisan base camp (Baza 20) and a hospital there. After Italy surrendered on September 8, 1943, Kočevje was part of the area liberated from partisans, which at that time, when the Wehrmacht only held Ljubljana and the rail link to Trieste, comprised about half of Slovenia. From October 1 to October 3, 1943, the “General Assembly of Kočevje” (Zbor odposlancev slovenskega naroda) took place here, in which 572 delegates and 78 other participants decided to join Primorska ( coastal area ) with Slovenia and a delegation to the “ anti-fascist Council of National Liberation of Yugoslavia ”(AVNOJ), which took place on November 29, 1943 in Jajce . Furthermore, the leading role of the OF (People's Liberation Front) was confirmed. Due to the danger of air raids, they only met at night.

At the end of October 1943, the Wehrmacht and the Slovenian Landwehr (Domobranci) attacked the town of Gottschee from the Kulpa and captured it on October 23. On December 9, 1943, a major attack by the partisans began, which the German troops threw back into the Auersperger castle on December 12. A task force of the Wehrmacht from Ljubljana finally forced the partisans to retreat on the same day, with a large part of the old town including the Auersperger castle being destroyed. 32 Domobranzen and nine German soldiers were killed in these battles. The city was further destroyed by further attacks by partisans and allied air strikes , which lasted until 1945. The Wehrmacht held the town of Gottschee until shortly before the end of the war, but beyond that they had hardly any control over the Gottschee region. On May 3, 1945, the last partisan attack began, which finally forced the Wehrmacht to retreat, so that on May 5, 1945 the partisans finally took the city.

Socialist Yugoslavia

The largely deserted area was repopulated after 1945 with people from other areas of Slovenia and all of Yugoslavia. Unlike in many villages, there was a residual population in the town of Gottschee, mostly Slovenes. While the majority of the villages fell into disrepair, the population in the town of Kočevje and the surrounding villages grew. The center of the city was built in modern architecture after the Second World War.

Gottscheer old settlers

The result of resettlement and displacement was that after the war, the German population largely disappeared from the area. Today there are only a few people of German origin who live in Gottschee and the surrounding area. Their number is estimated to be greater in the Moschnitze valley on the eastern edge of the former language island, which does not belong to the municipality of Kočevje, but to the municipalities of Dolenjske Toplice and Semič . They run a meeting place in the village of Občice (German: Krapflern , Dolenjske Toplice). In the past few years, the Slovenian public has been increasingly critical of the expulsion of the Gottscheers and attempts have been made to appreciate their contribution to history.


Today textile , chemical and forestry as well as trade are the most important branches of the economy. Mining is no longer taking place. The water-filled pits created during the opencast are now used as recreational areas.


Gottscheer lake (Kočevsko jezero)
Corpus Christi Church (Corpus Christi Church), Trata, town of Gottschee
Inscription in Gottscheerisch on the chapel of the Holy Sepulcher at the Corpus Christi church in Trata
  • On the Rinse (also Rinnse, Slovenian Rinža) on the edge of the Gottscheer old town is the neo-Romanesque parish church of St. Bartholomew, which was built from stones between 1901 and 1903 according to plans by Friedrich von Schmidt and is one of the largest church buildings in Slovenia.
  • The Corpus Christi church (Corpus Christi Church) from the 17th century is located in the Trata district. In 1989, in memory of the history of the Gottscheer stone tablets in Slovene and German, as well as an inscription in Gottscheer dialect, were placed here.
  • The city center of Gottschee was once dominated by the Auersperger city ​​palace . Like the old town, the castle was destroyed in the Second World War and its ruins were torn down after the end of the war. Today it is replaced by modern buildings, including a department store and a partisan memorial.
  • In the vicinity of the town in the Friedrichstein Forest (970 m above sea level) are the remains of the Friedrichstein Castle (Grad Fridrihštajn), which the Cillier Count Friedrich II von Cilli had built for his lover Veronika von Desinze .
  • The Landscape Museum (Pokrajinski muzej Kočevje, Šeškov dom ) was built in 1936 as the house of Sokol (Sokolski dom). The meeting of the delegates of the Slovenian people (zbor odposlancev slovenskega naroda) took place here from October 1st to 4th, 1943.
  • The Gottscheer See (Kočevsko jezero) has existed since 1978, which was created in 1978 in an abandoned open-cast brown coal mine.

Partner communities



  • Viktor Parma (1858–1924), composer, worked in Kočevje ( Gottschee )
  • Alois Loy (1860–1923), long-time mayor of the city
  • Michael Ruppe (* 1863 in Ovčjak ( Schäflein ) near Kočevje; † 1951), professor and academic painter
  • Zofka Kveder (1878–1926), writer, worked in Kočevje
  • Franjo Uršič (1898−?), Geologist, taught at the grammar school in Kočevje before the Second World War
  • France Onič (1901–1975), poet, taught at the grammar school in Kočevje before the Second World War
  • Roman Erich Petsche (* 1907 in Kočevje; † 1993), teacher, painter and Righteous Among the Nations
  • Jože Šeško (1908–1942), high school professor , social revolutionary, communist and resistance fighter, worked in Kočevje until his arrest and murder
  • Gerhard Bast (1911–1947), SS-Sturmbannführer
  • Matej Bor (Vladimir Pavšič; 1913–1993), poet and writer, worked in Kočevje before World War II
  • Rada Šuštar (1920–2007), academic painter, worked in Kočevje after the Second World War
  • Milan Butina (* 1923 in Kočevje; † 1999), academic painter, art educator and theorist
  • Stane Jarm (* 1931 in Osilnica; † 2011), academic sculptor, art teacher
  • Ivan Jurkovič (* 1952), Catholic Archbishop and Diplomat of the Holy See

Incorporated places in the entire municipality


Web links

Commons : Kočevje  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. KK Statistische Central-Commission, Special-Orts-Repertorien of the kingdoms and countries represented in the Oesterreichischen Reichsrathe. Volume VI Krain (Vienna 1883) p. 16.
  2. Mladina, February 23, 2004: Nemci, ki so bili partizani (Germans who were partisans)
  3. Zdravko Troha: Kočevski Nemci-Partizani. (The Gottscheer Partisans) Kočevje, Arhiv Slovenije, Ljubljana 2004, Slovensko kočevarsko društvo Peter Kosler, ISBN 961-91287-0-2 .
  4. ^ Mitja Ferenc: Kočevska, pusta in prazna - Nemško jezikovno območje na Kočevskem po odselitvi Nemcev. (The Gottschee, desolate and empty - the German language island in Kočevje after the Gottscheers moved away), 2006, ISBN 961-6183-80-X .
  5. http://www.burger.si/MuzejiInGalerije/DolenjskiMuzej/Baza20/Baza20_ENG.html
  6. M. Leskovšek-Svete: 70. Obletnica Zbora odposlncev: Bil je odločilen prelom s podložnistvom. (70th anniversary of the meeting of delegates: it was a decisive break with serfdom.) Dolenjski list , October 10, 2013, p. 1.
  7. Erich Petschauer: Century book of the Gottscheer. 1980. Chapter The Fall of the City of Gottschee .
  8. Official website: http://www.gottscheer.net/
  9. Drnovšek : Kočevarji so enakopravni državljani (The Gottscheers are citizens with equal rights), Delo (Slovenian daily newspaper) of March 16, 2006: http://www.delo.si/index.php?sv_path=41,35,125674  ( page not more available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.@1@ 2Template: Dead Link / www.delo.si  
  10. Homepage of the municipality of Kočevje ( memento of the original from September 26, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. , accessed on August 6, 2014 @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.kocevje.si