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CHILDREN’S BOOKS – WWII – BOOK ILLUSTRATION: Pohorske Pravljice [Stories from Pohorje].



A book with national stories from the mountainous region of Pohorje in Styria was published in Ljubljana under the Fascist occupation during WWII. The illustrations were made by Jože Beranek, known for his WWII Axis-backed propaganda posters, who was executed for treason only days after the war.

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This is a first edition of a popular collection of national Slovenian tales from the Pohorje region in Styria. The book was published in the second year of WWII during the Fascist occupation of Ljubljana under a strong censorship, when nationalism was not encouraged. The text is accompanied by high-quality black and white illustrations by a Czech born propaganda artist Jože Beránek, and the cover is decorated with elements from the local Slavic folklore. The author Jože Tomažič (1906-1970) was a Slovenian author, teacher and theatre director, who started publishing national stories before WWII.

The artist Jože Beránek (1913-45) was born in Písková Lhota, Bohemia (today Czech Republic), but as a child moved with his family to Zagreb, and then later to Ljubljana. There he graduated from a high school for engineering and architecture, before moving on to study at the prestigious Prague Art Academy. Later he returned to Ljubljana where he worked as a professional artist and draftsman, mastering various printing techniques. Beránek had strong rightwing leanings and worked as a magazine and book illustrator for Axis-backed publications. Latterly he joined the Domobranci (Slovene Home Guard), the collaborationist militia, attaining the rank of lieutenant. While in service his continued to design pro-Axis and Anti-Semitic propaganda pieces. Following the war, he was arrested by the Yugoslav Army and executed for treason.

The book was republished in 1990 and 2011 with different illustrations. We could only find one institutional copy outside Slovenian libraries (National and University Library, Trieste).

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