History on the Web in Slovenia (2016)

First update

2014 (web) | 2016 (tv) | 2016 (tv) | 2017 | 2018

by Darko Štrajn, Sabina Autor, Tina Šešerko

Web help us find different things that we are interested in and it helps us to search out necessary information at the time when we need them. We wanted to find out how history and different facts about history are presented on the web and how many themes are appearing about history, how many conversations are about history, and how often are history and historic facts mentioned in different forums, blogs and social networks. In a short report we are giving the account on our checking different internet sites, which are connected to history in some specific way. We mainly did not include professional (scientific) articles as well as different articles, which appear in various newspapers’ and magazines’ internet sites. We concentrated on some institutes, checked museums’ sites and sites of different associations, then we took a look at different forums, blogs and social networks, like Twitter and Facebook. We recorded posts that touched upon history, appearing within the time span (look below). We were then interested to find out how much are people talking about history over different forums, blogs and social networks.

Duration of the examination of internet sites, forums and blogs:
 28th July until 5th August 2016.

Institutional sites:

– First we undertook checking of web pages that different institutes have in Slovenia. We checked sites of Study Centre for National Reconciliation (Študijski center za narodno spravo) first (http://www.scnr.si/sl/ ). The Centre’s task is to research history of our country with an emphasis on investigations of fascism, Nazism and communism. On their site they try to “bring history near to people” and they aim to look into topics, which marked people in our country back then. Institution claims that it explores topics in the national history that are so far less researched or unexplored. On their web site, they are posting different publications. They write a lot about totalitarianism(s) in Slovenia. On web site they present their contemporary activities like diverse conferences and symposia on history and other events, which are connected to history that the Centre organises. At the time of our little research an article on the prison cells, built after World War 2 on the Beethoven Street in in the very city centre of Ljubljana, was much accentuated. A longer segment on the web page is describing prison cells. The page announces that the prison cells will be a part of the museum of totalitarianism that opens up soon.

– We checked web page of the Institute for modern history (Inštitut za novejšo zgodovino) (http://www.inz.si/ ) and the site of Milko Kos Historical Institute (Zgodovinski inštitut Milka Kosa) (http://zimk.zrc-sazu.si/ ). Institute for modern history deals with research of modern history, the other site presents the research of history since its beginnings to the First World War. On their web sites they post publications, on-going activity and events, that they organise in view of topics that they are looking into.

– Beside institutes also museums and archives are implicated in presentations of history. Their web pages give a range of information about history. Like institutes, archives have web pages, on which we can find different historical data and also information on what archives do and what is their current activity. Beside this, Historical archives offer the possibility to search different material with the help of keywords. We checked also web page of the National Museum (Narodni muzej) (http://www.nms.si/ ) in Ljubljana and Ptuj Regional Museum (Pokrajinski muzej Ptuj, Ormož) (http://pmpo.si/ ). On these two pages we found only descriptions of the on-going events and exhibitions. Both museums describe, what they are interested in and what they recommend to visitors. They describe programs for schools. They also write on exhibitions of the nearby museums and castles. Of course, on the web page there are some historical data from different periods. What we were missing has been a possibility for any visitors’ interactive motions as, for instance, expressing opinions on exhibitions or events. Sites are, therefore, only informative. The site of the Kobarid Museum (Kobariški muzej) (http://www.kobariski-muzej.si/ ), situated at one of the main World War 1 battle fronts,  gives certain data as soon as we click on it. When we open web page, we find Kobarid’s historical importance. The most important event is the battle of Kobarid in October 1917. The battle of Kobarid was one of the largest clashes in a mountainous country, beside the 11th Battle of the Isonzo. Beside the museum of Kobarid, there are some other ways to find (arte)facts on the same topic. The National  Museum of Contemporary History (Muzej novejše zgodovine Slovenije) (http://www.muzej-nz.si/sl/ ) presents exhibition under the title We didn’t Imagine such a War. Exhibition is dedicated to the presenting and explanation of life and narratives of people during the years between 1914 and 1918.

– Different historical associations exist in Slovenia and they have their presentations on the web. The main association is Association of historical Societies of Slovenia (Zveza zgodovinskih društev Slovenije) (http://zzds.si/ ). On the site every event connected to history is announced and more or less impartially commented. The site promotes the historical journal.  They publish scientific articles, based on the verified historical methodologies. The aim of the page is to be as informative as possible.

Blogs and Forums

Central part of our examination of web pages were blogs and forums, which are somehow connected to history. We checked different forums on the web, where people are expressing opinions on many different historical events, controversies, polemics or disagreements. We are summarising very briefly our findings, emphasising just some blogs and forums, where we came across very explicit opinions and conversations about history. It seems that people had been publishing their opinions on history in forums much more in previous years than they do now. There are a lot of net forums of students of history, where students aren’t talking about historical events, for example, the First World War or French revolution, etc. They write, above all, about the department of history at the University, debating about how much sense makes a choice of this study; they are talking about difficulties of studying, they exchange information about lectures and literature.

When we’re checking forum Mysteries and the Paranormal (Misteriji in paranormalno) (http://www.misteriji.net/forum/), we came across the topic of Hitler. Subject was opened in 2014, but still very much alive. Participants of forum commented above all on documentary films and different sites of the 2nd World War. Interesting commentary on the Second World War on the forum, was from one participant, who wrote that “winners are always writing history and that good ones always win.” Another participant of forum then questions the objectivity of history. This theme is also interesting for other participants, who also question objectivity of history. They discuss about two sides of story in history. They found out, that they had been taught, e. g. in primary school, that Slovenia had acquired back Istria and Primorska after the 2nd World War. They then point out that their Italian equals were taught, that “Tito took their part of Italy” by force. Such debates boils down to type of conclusions that history always has more explanations.

On the forum Med over Net (http://med.over.net/forum/ ), dedicated to health topics, participants came across the theme, which is connected to history and it was very important for the country. The newest topics in the year 2016 were connected to Yugoslavia and so called Yugo-nostalgia. Some participants on the forum think, that our important history is only history after the times of Yugoslavia. Some participants thought that “our present does not differ much from our past in Yugoslavia. The only difference is that today we are in European Union, but back in our history we were a part of Yugoslavia.” Some participants shared the opinion that it was much better in Yugoslavia than nowadays in the independent Slovenia. They believed that we didn’t live in scarcity and that today is much worse for many people. Many topics on this forum reveal a split between advocates of one political regime and adversaries of the other. Some have favourable opinions about communism, whereas some other participants are describing it critically. The latter ones emphasise different topics that expose different meanings of the notion of communism. Some participants are condemning communism severely and they are blaming communism and the “communist Slovenia” for all the problems, which we are confronted with in our state nowadays. Many participant in the forum suppose that at the moment we are doing badly in our country. They said that before our independence we were in better position. Some more extreme opinions maintain, that a civil war should take place within Slovenia, like in 1990,  when we fought for our independence, but “we didn’t purge the society enough of the old influences”. So they think, that today we have many people on executive positions, that aren’t capable of guiding a state correctly.

Without mentioning many particular web forums we should mention that there are many posts that speak about the past and about our ancestors. Stories about people, who were somehow involved in historical events that marked our country, appear very often.

There are many disputes, in which some participants claim that that others don’t know anything about history and that they lack knowledge of literature. For example, the topics on history are appearing also on Rainbow forum (Mavrični forum) (http://www.mavricni-forum.net/ ), dedicated to LGBT scene. In a debate, that we came across, the majority agreed that the most important event in history of Slovenia was gaining of independence. One from among more important events, according to some participants, was the accession of Slovenia to EU.

As anywhere else, where there is a developed internet, also in Slovenia there are a lot of different blogs, where authors refer to history. Radio and TV of Slovenia have their forums and blogs, where different topics are discussed and a lot of them concern history. Most topics on different blogs are connected with independence of Slovenia. These blogs are also the most read by site visitors. Opposition leader Janez Janša and “his general” Tone Krkovič are mentioned in different blogs as the only ones, who earned something from independences of Slovenia. It is interesting that a blogger estimates that just 25 years passed since gaining of independences and all 25 years certain people wish to change course and meaning of history. He thinks that after 25 years from the inception of Slovenia we shall be able to start to think about the country as a common State (http://www.had.si/blog/2016/06/20/janez-jansa-in-tone-krkovic-edina-zasluzna-za-osamosvojitev-slovenije/ ). Blog Slovenia, which gives virtual space to personal opinions often opens historical topics, for example on the role of Jews and Hitler. It, not surprisingly, contains some farfetched theories about history (http://blogslovenija.blogspot.si/2007/12/prostozidarji-je-hitler-vedel.html ). A lot of bloggers are expressing opinions about politics, about causes for the First and the Second World War and imaginable causes for the third such war. One of them, recalling Pike’s letter to the supposed leader of the Illuminati, Giuseppe Mazzini, “explains” reasons for both the First and Second World War. The blogger envisions the reasons for the third war too, citing the above mentioned resource that these reasons for World Wars were obvious already in 1871. The World War 2 started, according to this view, because of emphasising diversity between the German nationalists and political Zionists. One blogger writes about “War; sexual violence and rape”, which is one of newer records, where the author describes horrors and brutality for civilians, females and children. The majority of blogs that we checked on Blog Slovenia expose different historical events, but very rarely any comments are written, except for some praises of the effort, made by the authors of some blogs. Of course, in many instances blogs just repeat what is already described in different books and articles.

Social Networks

At the end of our report, we will try to summarise some takes of different individuals on history on social networks. We checked above all Facebook and Twitter, and we found out that in Slovenia individuals like to vent their opinions on Twitter.

Blog Slovenia that we already wrote about before, also has its Twitter profile. On Twitter individuals can publish their opinions and Blog Slovenia posts them on their Twitter profile (https://twitter.com/search?q=osamosvojitev&src=typd ). Many opinions on Twitter refer to contemporary affairs related to our history. Some tweets referred to president Putin as, for example: “Three communist presidents and 25 years of just shit.” Many publications are negative or even hateful, above all, about politicians, as, for example: “Why so much words, when we could quote our boss, that independence wasn’t intimate choice #gypsies.”, or: “Those who watch celebrations see, that all politicians in SD (Social Democrats) strive for division of Slovene nation and still today they despise independence.” Of course, some individuals think that gaining of the independence of our country was the largest event in history. They said that “independence is the miracle”. These publications were posted around the days nearing the national celebrations of the Statehood Day. Different keywords on Twitter, for example “Hitler”, bring up a lot about the Second World War. Beside publishing different photographs, many publications compare the candidate for the president of the United States Donald Trump to Hitler.

We wrote this short report after the examination of the web. But, naturally, we aren’t able to scoop everything that is written about history. We can indicate that forums are being replaced by the social networks like Twitter and Facebook. We found out, that a lot of people were telling about history on a web, and that many people prevalently discuss about independence of Slovenia.

Final remarks

Different, traumatising and utterly opinionated narratives, more often than not supported by some historians, make a task of the educational agents and media to work in an “impartial” manner in their presentations of history very difficult.

In the Slovenian lower and higher secondary school curriculum, as it seems, the authors, who include practicing teachers of history, manage to avoid direct exposure of pupils to the conflicting views in public sphere. Therefore, the presentation of “goals and contents” in the curriculum documents indicates important concepts and phenomena, which should be distinguished and recognised as, for instance, “forms of family in 19th century,” “migrations,” a “role of sciences”, etc. As for more “complex” periods the curriculum is relatively open and encourages a degree of autonomy of teachers, but it sets “Standards of Knowledge” for each of four grades. Among common standards to all four “stages” a skill for “different forms of communication,” which includes modern audio-visual and internet resources, is to be found. In the chapter on “Didactic Recommendations” teachers are encouraged to use different methods and to co-operate with institutions such as museums, libraries, etc. Cross-curricular links are also specified with most of other educational programs, but somewhat more significantly with geography and citizenship education.

Slovenian media – audio-visual media are most influential among them – tend to “take sides” especially concerning different views about the World War 2 and its aftermath. This does not make a task of utilizing current media production for educational purposes by no means easy. Our own following of the Slovenian media, which is presented in this report, in many instances illustrates this point. Since Slovenian public TV is a main organisation that not only broadcast imported programmes, but also manufactures and/or enables a creation of programmes in different applicable genres related to history, our presentation of particular audio-visual programmes relies mostly on its contributions.


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