British-Slovene Society Annual Picnic with workshop for children

DSC04951Come and join us on Sunday 7th July from 12 noon onwards for our Annual Picnic in the Oxford University Harcourt Arboretum at Nuneham Courtenay. We will meet again by the kozolec (Slovene hay rack).

Bring your own picnic, drinks, plates, cutlery, chairs, tables, blankets, balls — not to mention your children, grandchildren and friends. As usual among Slovenes, we encourage you to bring plenty to eat and drink and share it with everyone!

Children of all ages can take part in a fun drawing workshop with Nina Nemec, a Slovene graphic and fashion designer (see www.cacka.eu). The pictures made by the children will be displayed on the hayrack, and each child can take his/her picture home.

The Arboretum is situated just south of Nuneham Courtenay on the A4074 road from Reading, eight miles south of Oxford. The postal code is OX44 9PX. From London it can be reached by the M40, exit 8, A40 to Oxford, then southwards round the Ring Road (A4142) on to the A4074 towards Reading. Website: http://www.harcourt-arboretum.ox.ac.uk/.

If you come to Oxford or Reading by train and need a lift, mail to evelina@ferrar.org.uk or call 07584 199 177 and we will do what we can to help.

Entrance fee to the Arboretum has been reduced to £2 (half price) for the British-Slovene Society. Children and Members of Oxford University enter for free.

The picnic will take place whatever the weather. Join us for a day together outside in nature!

British-Slovene Society holds Annual General Meeting

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The British-Slovene Society held its Annual General Meeting in London on 21 June 2013 under the Chairmanship of David Lloyd.

The Meeting approved the Chairman’s Report and the Financial Statement. It re-elected the following:

Chairman: David Lloyd.

Trustees: Alan Banes, Igor Cesarec, Michael Chant, Željka Charles-Jones, Evelina Ferrar, Gorazd Kert, Keith Miles, Shirlie Roden, Breda Wilkinson.

The Chairman advised that Anica Page did not seek re-election as Trustee.

At the end of the meeting, inscribed silver salvers were presented to Keith and Slava Miles for their long and valuable service to the British-Slovene Society.

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Talk by Marcus Ferrar “Writing about peoples with difficult histories”

DSC06575Diana Poberaj wrote this report about a talk given by Marcus Ferrar at the British-Slovene Society Annual General Meeting in London on 21 June 2013:

I was very moved  how, in the final chapter of his book about Germany, A Foot in Both Camps, Marcus Ferrar describes how he wrote in the visitors’ book of the church in Dresden destroyed by the British air force in February 1945 and now restored: ” When my turn came,  I wrote in the book, ‘ I am British.  I am sorry my people destroyed this church.  It should never have happened. ‘”

The following paragraph, ending with the choice for peace over a penchant for war, is a sentiment echoed in the hearts of so many people, desperately searching for a route to reconciliation.

In his lecture, Marcus demonstrated his level of understanding of human conflict, how he understood the position of families separated by political threads endorsed by a position of no return, either on one side or the other. This is a huge burden for a new country. It faces huge challenges in a situation where there is no homogeneity.

He gave illustrations of where compassion and forgiveness had triumphed and led to peace of mind and heart.

Marcus spoke about the book Slovenia 1945, written by John Corsellis and Marcus himself. He reflected on how moved John Corsellis was by his personal experiences and observations of the suffering of prisoners which culminated in the massacre of 12, 000 Slovene soldiers upon their enforced return to former Yugoslavia.

His latest book, The Budapest House, due out this autumn, centres on the emerging story of a young girl in a boarding school in Switzerland, who at the age of thirteen discovers that she is Jewish. She is aghast and destroys a much treasured photograph of her parents. Her story moves on to her eventual inheritance of a flat in Budapest, the remnant of a building originally owned by her father.

Her tenant, himself a Jew, had been a member of the secret police and had participated in the torture of prisoners. Although he leaves the apartment eventually after some pressure to go, she questions herself and her soul about the flat and the implications of this inheritance. She has been sent back to Budapest by George Soros to help with privatisation of the state publishing system. It is at this time that Marcus Ferrar met her and encouraged her to allow him to write and publish her story.

Marcus commented in depth about the history of Hungary and reflected on their own genocide, that of their own citizens who helped to carry out sending Hungarian Jews to certain death. He went on to say that anti-Semitism is still part of a mind-set of a proportion of the population. Coupled with demands from some quarters for the return of Greater Hungary territories, there are still political and social issues which pervade and shape it’s modern history.

Marcus gave place in his lecture to Willy Brandt, the German Chancellor of reconciliation, and his prostrate figure kneeling before the Jewish Memorial in Warsaw. The impact of that picture worldwide was mind-blowing. Germans have been far more ready to accept their responsibility for the genocide of so many, they have done their ‘mea culpa’.

Britain’s inclination towards belligerency led to the relentless bombing of German towns at the end of the Second World War. It is still lodged in the minds of those who suffered it.

His simple offer of an acknowledgement of sorrow over the destruction of Dresden and its beloved church is what impressed a woman witness to history the most. That apology should be the inheritance of all children and people worldwide, because it is the wellspring of hope for the future of all countries in conflict.

 

Talk by Marcus Ferrar “Writing about peoples with difficult histories”

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Diana Poberaj wrote this report about a talk given by Marcus Ferrar at the British-Slovene Society Annual General Meeting in London on 21 June 2013:

In the final chapter of his book about Germany, A Foot in Both Camps, Marcus Ferrar describes how he wrote in the visitors’ book of the church in Dresden destroyed by the British air force in February 1945 and now restored: “When my turn came, I wrote, ‘ I am British. I am sorry my people destroyed this church.  It should never have happened. ‘” His words indicated his choice for peace over war.

Marcus demonstrated his understanding of human conflict, and the position of families separated by opposing standpoints enforced by positions of no return.  This is a huge burden for a new country such as Slovenia, because there is no homogeneity.

Slovenia 1945, which Marcus wrote with John Corsellis, tells how moved John Corsellis was by his observation of the suffering of Slovene refugees in Austria when 13,000 Slovene soldiers were massacred upon their enforced return to former Yugoslavia.

His latest book, The Budapest House, due out this autumn, centres on a Hungarian girl who at the age of thirteen is shocked to discover that she is Jewish. She inherits a flat in Budapest from her grandfather. She discovers the tenant was a member of the secret police and had tortured prisoners. She is troubled by the implications of this inheritance.

Marcus reflected on Hungarians’ own genocide – their own citizens helped send Hungarian Jews to Auschwitz.

He admired Willy Brandt, the German Chancellor of reconciliation, who knelt before the Jewish Memorial in Warsaw. Germans have been far more ready to accept responsibility for genocide.

Britain’s relentless bombing of German towns is still lodged in the minds of those who suffered it.

The author’s acknowledgement of sorrow over the destruction of Dresden and its beloved church is what impressed a woman witness to history the most.