STALAG XVIII D
The Museum of the Stalag XVIII-D Nazi Concentration Camp and the Maribor (Slovenia) International Research Centre for WWII were founded and developed in order to strengthen relations and partnerships between the Republic of Slovenia and the Russian Federation, in hopes of preserving historical truths concerning the Allied efforts to combat the Nazi and fascist aggressors of WWII and the heinous crimes committed in their name.
The Nazi aggressors opened the Stalag XVIII-D POW concentration camp in Maribor (Slovenia) immediately after the surrender of the Yugoslavian army in June 1941. The camp stretched out over the premises of the former army barracks and customs warehouse in Melje. German forces first established the POW camp Stalag XVIII-D for soldiers from the former Kingdom of Yugoslavia, Greece, France, Great Britain, Australia, and New Zealand. They then moved on to the remaining section of the customs warehouse and constructed the other, so-called Russian section of the Stalag XVIII-D concentration camp. Captured Soviet soldiers were brought here, separated from all the others POWs. The insufferable conditions in this Russian camp led to a tragically high death rate, with the overwhelming majority of Soviet POWs delivered here between autumn 1941 and spring 1942 meeting their deaths. In total, the number of victims reached around 5000, of whom certainly many perished from sheer exhaustion during transport to Stalag XVIII-D. Soviet prisoners here were subject to torture and other horrible forms of violence, the terror of which rivals conditions seen in Dachau, Auschwitz, Mauthausen, and other concentration camps. Prisoners were starved and frozen, and, except for rare exceptions, beaten and treated inhumanely by the German guards.
Looking back 75 years after the end of WWII, it is nearly impossible to say definitively what exactly transpired here, as memory has faded into oblivion or has even been erased on purpose.
The building in which the Soviet POWs were confined is still standing today, presenting the perfect opportunity to design a museum, replete with several additional exhibitions and content, whose narrative exceeds the mere boundaries of Maribor and even Slovenia itself.
Some documents and records from 1941 to 1945 are kept in the burial books at the archives of the Maribor Cemetery, as well as at the Austrian State Archives, the German Bundesarchiv in Freiburg, the State Archive of the Russian Federation, the British National Archives, the Australian War Memorial, and further in the Official History of New Zealand. Some of the collected materials are stored at the Maribor National Liberation Museum.
This museum and International Research Centre serve as an eternal memorial to the suffering experienced during WWII. Maribor was subjected during the war to countless shocks, suffering, and untold horrors. The memory of those atrocities must never fade, let alone disappear completely, especially not now, as Europe is yet again bearing witness to a rise in extreme nationalistic thinking and movements. This museum, housed in a space that witnessed the unfolding of countless horrors and gruesome deaths, takes visitors back to a distant era, one that should be explored and understood. The current exhibitions, which portray conditions during World War II, serve as the perfect starting point for confronting the past.