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The final wartime issue of the most famous Slovenian Partisan newspaper, ‘Delo’, printed by an underground press in Italian-occupied Ljubljana, with a magnificently illustrated cover, was printed in a secret room in the building of the Fascist police station.


8°. 34 pp., original wrappers with illustrated cover printed in red, stapled (Very Good, staples slightly soiled, slightly stained, tiny tears in the lower margin).

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This newspaper was issued by an underground Partisan press in Italian-occupied Ljubljana, and provided eagerly awaited information from the war front and abroad, as well as articles on Communism, mixed with stories for the common people. The paper was named Delo (Labour), a popular Communist theme.

Notably, the present issue features an exquisite and well known cover printed in red, depicting a young, smiling Partisan with a machine gun in hand, followed by common people carrying Soviet and Yugoslav flags. This cover is one of the most celebrated images of World War II in Yugoslavia.

This edition is also the last issue of Delo to be printed before the end of the war. After the war, the much beloved Delo was revived and printed as a daily, and is still today one of Slovenia’s major papers.

Returning to wartime Delo, the various issues were printed at different clandestine printing shops in Ljubljana during the Italian occupation, a city which was soon surrounded by a cordon of barbed wire to prevent its citizens from communicating with the Partisans. The quality of the printing is usually high for clandestine publishing operations. This is due to the fact that the main purpose of these presses was to forge Italian documents and food coupons for the Partisans and their spies. From September 1941 to July 1942, some issues of Delo were printed by the Submarine (Podmornica) press, hidden in a hole, dug in the loamy grounds under a private house in the suburbs of Ljubljana. The entrance to the printing office

was through the moveable floor of the restroom of the house. The press had to close down after the Italians placed their barbed wire fence right in front of the house, so separating it from the city of Ljubljana.

The Tunnel (Tunel) press, active between February and July 1942, printed issues of Delo. It was located in the centre of Ljubljana, above a small cork factory. The press was set in a small 3 x 1.5 m (9.8 x 4.9 feet) tunnel-like room, accessible only through a 0.5 m (1.6 feet) high movable piece of wall, which was further disguised by a decorative wall painting. The press had to close down due to its difficulty of accessibility.

Some editions of Delo were issued by the Tone Tomšič press (named after a Partisan who was shot by Italians in May 1942), which operated from August 1942 to March 1943. The printing shop was hidden in a secret room behind a bookbinder’s shop, right next to the main Italian police station of Ljubljana. The entrance was through a moveable bookshelf, and a warning red light for danger in the printing shop was connected to the electric pot for cooking glue in the bindery out front. The press thrived until the Italian police detected it.


References: Bibliografija, no. 8403; Ludvig Čarni, ‘Ilegalne grafične tehnike centralne tehnike KPS v Ljubljani’, in Kronika 1960, 1, pp. 1-8; Metod Mikuž, Partizanske ustanove. Razvoj in delo nekaterih važnejših partizanskih ustanov.

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