PARTISAN HOSPITAL ZGORNJI HRASTNIK
The beginnings of Zgornji Hrastnik hospital reach back to mid-February
1943 when in the hamlet of Smrečnik near Komarna Vas, a hospital
and rehabilitation facility at Hrastnik was established. It
was located in the only house and farm buildings that were not
burnt. In spring, two buildings were erected in the forest above
the hamlet, which were the predecessors of Spodnji Hrastnik
hospital. In mid-June at the beginning of the Italian offensive,
the wounded were evacuated and accommodated in these two buildings,
but after some time, they were moved again to the Škrilj rehabilitation
unit in the village of Štale. The unit operated until the German
offensive of October 1943 when the wounded were moved again.
They were hidden in a makeshift camp on Bukova Gorica.
This was the founding of Zgornji Hrastnik hospital. It was
the first hospital in Kočevski Rog that was not built in a deep
hollow but high on the slopes of a hill. Initially, it comprised
only two buildings with beds and a roof for the kitchen. The
first building was a dormitory for recovering patients, called
"the kennel". It was built of rough logs and measured
8 x 5.5 metres. Next to it, a roof for a makeshift kitchen was
erected, which after a proper kitchen was built served as a
laundry. In the same year, a second building was constructed
to accommodate the personnel.
In late December 1943 Dr Janez Milčinski - Peter became the
new manager of the hospital. Under his guidance, the project
of the expansion of the hospital was initiated in early 1944.
It gradually transformed the facility into a hospital for the
badly wounded and for demanding operations. In late January
a new surgery was built, called "aseptika". Prior
to that, operations had been carried out in the dormitory for
the wounded, on the table at which the patients took their meals
or on a bed with the surgeon kneeling down next to it. The new
surgery contained a new operating table and all necessary furniture,
made by the hospital's carpenter according to the plans of Dr
Milčinski. His plans were later used for the equipment of surgeries
in all Rog hospitals. The building had two large windows and
a large opening in the ceiling, which provided ample light.
With the construction of "aseptika", a line was drawn
between aseptic and septic surgery in partisan hospitals.
In late February another large building for the wounded was
erected; the patients called it "septika", because
it contained a facility for septic surgery. There, a bacteriological
laboratory was set up in mid June 1944 for the needs of the
Slovene Central War Partisan Hospital. In April, several child
births took place at the hospital.
In late March, the construction of a kitchen with a brick stove
and closed hearths for cauldrons was finished. Two other small
buildings accommodated a bakery and a warehouse. In case of
imminent danger, a camouflaged bunker was built for the wounded.
For all Rog hospitals, an evacuation plan in several stages
was prepared. It was very important that no footprints led to
any of the hospitals. The only way to enter Zgornji Hrastnik
hospital was to step off the Komarna Vas road at a specific
spot and climb onto a cliff. From there one had to walk on fallen
tree trunks and through thick bushes to a path that finally
led to the hospital.
In almost a year and a half of the hospital's operations, over
400 wounded were treated at the facility. Most of them were
seriously wounded. Sixty-nine died.