About Franja Partisan Hospital
Franja Partisan Hospital was a secret World War II hospital hidden within the wild and stunning landscape of the Pasica gorge, Western Slovenia. Constructed by the Slovenian resistance movement between 1943 and 1945, Franja Partisan Hospital could hold 120 patients at a time within its 13 camouflaged buildings.
Numbers differ, but between 500 and 1,000 soldiers were treated at Franja Partisan Hospital and, despite fervent attempts by enemy forces, it was never discovered. The buildings seen there today are reconstructions, as the originals were destroyed by flooding.
History of Franja Partisan Hospital
The hospital was built deep inside German-occupied Europe, a few hours from Austria and the central parts of the Third Reich. Building started at the end of 1943, and underwent continuous improvements until 1945.
It was founded and built by Viktor Volčjak, but named after its managed and physician, Franja Bojc Bidovec, who started working there in 1944.
The hospital was extremely well-equipped for a clandestine, partisan operation, and was designed to treat as many as 120 patients at a time, and saw nearly as many as ten times that during its occupation.
The majority of the patients there were wounded anti-Nazi resistance fighters who would otherwise be arrested at a normal hospital. Among the patients, however, was a wounded German enemy solider who, after recovering, remained at the hospital as a member of staff.
German military activity was frequent in the general region throughout the operation of the hospital. As a result, the hospital’s entrance was hidden in the forest, and was only accessible by bridges which could be retracted if the enemy was in the area.
Its location was so secret that patients were blindfolded while being transported there. It was also protected by minefields and nests of machine guns, and was concealed by the many trees and camouflaged buildings which were pivotal for its secrecy when faced with enemy air reconnaissance missions.
It was never discovered, and was in use until May 1945, then became part of the Cerkno Museum in 1963.
In 2007, it was badly damaged by a flood after severe and torrential rains. It was therefore reconstructed and completely rebuilt by 2010, and has reopened for visitors. It is currently a candidate to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Franja Partisan Hospital Today
Today, visitors can enjoy walking around the reconstructed buildings of the Franja Partisan Hospital. The storehouse is the only original remaining building.
There is signage in English, as well as an abundance of natural beauty, including waterfalls, amongst the stunning landscape.
Getting to Franja Partisan Hospital
From Cerkno, the hospital is a 5 minute drive via Cerkno- Novaki- Črni Vrh. There are also a number of regular buses which take around 20 minutes from Cerkno. By foot, it’s an uphill climb via Cerkno- Novaki- Črni Vrh, and takes around an hour.