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An extremely rare newsletter printed by Slovenian Partisan survivors at Dachau Concentration Camp shortly after the Americans liberated it; with unique and meaningful content, richly illustrated.


4°: 4 pp., mimeographed text with illustrations, stapled in the right upper corner (Very Good, slightly age-toned, tears in margins and partly in the text, tiny loss of paper in margins, staple disconnected).


This is an extraordinary work that employs a dark ‘Balkan Style’ sense of humour to attack the some of the greatest acts of evil ever committed, as well as those who were responsible for those acts. It also celebrates the triumph of the survivor, who having endured and witnessed unimaginable suffering, has suddenly been given his life back and chance to go home. At the same time, it is heartfelt tribute to the fallen friends who will not be returning home.

This is, as the subtitle reads, the “First and – hopefully – farewell edition” of a newspaper created by Slovenian Partisan internees, printed at the Dachau Concentration camp, near Munich, Germany. To be clear, the work was published on June 1, 1945, just over a month after the camp was liberated from the Nazis. At this time, the camp was under American administration, and while the Americans went to great efforts to dramatically improve the conditions of the camp’s residents, most of the former prisoners were obliged to remain in the camp for some weeks until being processed out. Not only did the Americans need to screen the rolls for people who were potential security risks to the Allies, but it was also considered unsafe or very difficult for many of the internees to return to home. Time was required for all the arrangements to be made, and so thousands remained in Dachau.

Thus, the Americans facilitated activities and diversions for the internees as they awaited their release. A small number of residents requested and were given the resources to publish their own rudimentary newsletters, giving rise to the present work.

The present newsletter immediately launches into sarcastic, ironic humour, seeking to convey various messages, but also to lift the spirits of its readers, fellow survivors who were still in Dachau.

The content takes the form of short poems and articles on aspects of Dachau, as well as salvos launched against prominent pro-Axis Yugoslav figures, accompanied by several entertaining illustrations by Božidar (Božo) Pengov.

Of note, are the poems directed against the Domobranci (Slovene Home Guard); the outwardly pro-Nazi Archbishop of Ljubljana, Gregorij Rožman; the Croatian ustaše leader Ante Pavelić; the Slovenian general and Nazi collaborator Leon Rupnik; as well as the Croatian Ustaše politician Vladko Maček. The text expresses delight that all of these people are either on the run or on their way to the gallows.

There is also a lengthier article about daily life in Dachau written by the survivor Ludwig Mrzel, penned in the spring of 1944 in Bloc 24, but not published until this time. He notes that in 1944 there were 59,000 prisoners in the camp; but that a year later this number had swelled to 150,000.

The newsletter includes a bitingly sarcastic mock advertisement for Dachau:


‘Large numbers of empty rooms and joined dormitories to let. Room for about 10,000 men, but more to be free soon. Warm places in the crematorium, a single bedroom in the bunker. Food measured by a German scientific method: spinach, turnip, kohlrabi etc. with accountable calories and vitamins. Lifelong supply. Management of K. L. Dachau.’


The editor of the newsletter, Emil Smasek (1910-85), joined Partisans at the beginning of the war, but was imprisoned in Dachau in from 1942 to 1943, and then again from January 1945. There he became a leader of the underground cultural-propaganda department of Yugoslav National Committee. After the war, he became a famous dramatist and author, involved in radio shows and puppet theatres.

Ludwig Mrzel (1904-71) was a journalist and dramatist, and later the director of the National Theatre in Ljubljana, as well as a prolific translator of books. In 1949 he fell afoul of Marshal Tito and was imprisoned on the notorious Croatian penal colony of ‘Naked Island’, under the preposterous charge of being a “Gestapo spy”. He was subsequently released and continued his career. Importantly, Mrzel was the editor of the only other known Yugoslavian newspaper to be published in Dachau, Dahavski poročevalec. This work was published over 13 days from May 2, 1945 (see Bibliografija, nos. 8395 and 8396).

The illustrator of the work, Božidar (Božo) Pengov (1910-85) was a famous academic sculptor during the pre-war period, responsible for many open-air statues. After the war he became a professor at the Ljubljana Art Academy. Notably, Pengov produced a well-known and poignant work on the horrors of Dachau, being a mimeographed image of starved copses in coffins, with the title Ne moremo z vami – toda ne pozabite nas! [We cannot go with you – but do not forget us!].

The present newsletter is extremely rare; we can locate only 2 other examples in institutions on Worldcat.


References: Smasek, Emil (1910–1980)’, Slovenska biografija (2013); V. Steska, ‘Pengov, Božidar (1910–1985)’, Slovenska biografija (2013).

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