Lives Journal 10

Davorin Zhunkovich



(Two articles)




In the »Strazha« journal from 14 April, a certain M. L. posits that the »artificial construct of the name »Maribor«, is now going on 60 years of age«.

A strange position in three ways! Firstly it is more than a little strange that a person would fail to sign their name to scientific argumentation, particularly if their statement is derived from sources unknown to others, or some other type of substantiation of their viewpoint. How peacefully our public life would play out, if everyone who would reproach another in a publication, would be obliged to do so by signing their full name, for this would publically demonstrate their willingness to personally state and defend their position. This is something every editor aught demand! How much smirking and groundless irritation, how much discord would be eliminated. How many scientific critiques would gain significance, if the editors would disallow anonymous defamation of honest working people, or if our laws for publications would mandate: sign your name when addressing the public, if your writing come at all from good intentions or personal opinion.

Secondly: where is there any proof the name »Maribor« only first appeared 60 years ago? Is this M. L. aware of all the writs? Surely, neither he nor the rest of us are! As proof to the contrary, allow me to state the following: There were statements, particularly by a party opposing us, that the name »Ormozh« was created as late as the 18th century, and that the primary name was of German origin (»Friedau«). Zahn (»Ortsnamnsbuch«), under the heading »Frieadau«, argues that this name came into being only as a consequence of the peace (»Friede«) between Emperor Miroslav and King Mathias (in 1490). This is also false, since in the same place Zahn himself mentions a writ from 1331, which already references »Fridowe«. A document from 1315 also similarly refers to »Holrmues«. And after 1490 »Friedau« was also not used ubiquitously, since we found the tombstone from 1504 bearing the inscription »Ormosd«, which Zahn does not mention, or perhaps is unaware of. Knowing all, or various sources, it all quickly begins to appear different. And are we already in posession of all the sources for the name »Maribor«?! – Most certainly not! – Now that we have begun exploring old documents for ourselves, no longer dependent on German reasoning, the haughty all-Germanising tactics of our political adversaries is growing ever more obvious each day. Therefore, extreme care must be taken prior to uttering any decisive or deciding words.

Thirdly: It is particularly odd that M. L. writes: »simply establishing for a German term some Slovenian name, more often than not with no historic basis or liking by the people, will not soon bolster the name’s use.« – What is here stated is simply: let us not begin, as the Germans had before, to simply forge Slovenian names from German ones; our people have a better inclination for Gerry names! Mr M. L., you are veering astray here, for which I will quickly recapitulate some proof.

A good ten years ago I wrote the Slovenian name for »Spielfeld« was »Shpilje«. At that time, in an era of strong German pressure, I temporarily achieved nothing; today this name is being used, as far as I know, generally, that is by the people, because they sense some traditional continuity of this name, and owing to the fact that there are »shpilje« (caverns) in the area.

I have also previously published that, were »Maribor« some importation from the German »Marburg« then the new form would surely be »Margrad«. Whereas, where the people say »Marpruk« (usually pronouncing it »Marpuk’) this is entirely natural, as they previously only had rare occasion to hear the Slovenian name.

If, therefore, people are instructed on a scientific basis, to make historically accurate use of place names, then this ought not lead anyone to push the Germans’ agenda for them, and posit: do not garble German place-names! –

We are happy to admit that a similar matter may in deed have occurred, but we then used science as weapon to combat it as well. For example, a particularly witty Slovenian, apparently only after All Hollows’ in 1918 –, in Ljubljana came up with the notion, and officially declared, that »Sternhal« is for all time to be renamed »Strnische« (»stubble«). Since there is no stubble on that particularly gravelly soil, which barely yields grass enough for sheep fodder, that landscape continues to be called »Prelogi« (unworked land), as it was before; from »Strnishche« is derived the popular humorous designation for privy – »stranishche«. Such is the peoples’ revenge when something unnatural is forced upon them!

Would it also be deemed the garbling of a German name, if the name »Samoschegg« would rightly be said and written as »Zamoshchek«, i.e. mali zamek (zamok) or gradich (trans. small castle), which is what it is. Tell the people a linguistically correct name once, and it will be adopted immediately, because they instantly comprehend an apt etymology.

And why is it unthinkable that the root »mar-« in »Maribor« as in »Marbreg« would be one and the same? Why would one forcefully attempt to find »Marienberg« where, at least to my knowledge, the local church is not dedicated to St Mary at all, but rather to St Mihael? Is this any proof? Who can prove that »Kremberg« is either a German or Slovenian garbling? The original name actually is Slovenian »krem«, that is small fortress, and the Germans simply added –berg, if the Slovenians did not already use »Kremberg«. Therefore, it aught today be called »Sv. Ana na Kremu«, being that all place-names like: Kreme, Kremenec, Kremnica, Kremzha, Kreml, Krim etc. are of Old Slavic provenance and in this all further polemic is moot.

We know that the original names of our settlements have become through German influence almost entirely garbled; we therefore wish for nothing other than to win back by scientific means their old forms or to re-introduce them; now finally the age has come favouring such efforts, and in this more than necessary cultural historical work we will surely refrain from tearing each-other down.


(First publ. in: Mariborski delavec /Politichen list/, 7 May, 1919; no. 102, pp. 1-2)








When I went to grammar school in Maribor in 1888, the professors at the time, including a few Slovenians, told us that Slovenians were the only nation that had no history of their own, because in time all of their history was lost. Though we were astonished at the thought that there existed individual nations without historical memories, we had to believe it at the time, as we knew of no evidence to the contrary. And since the statement was resolutely repeated by Slovenian professors, our outlook finally became moulded by these views. The formerly strictly German-oriented stance was systematically adapted to make us believe it, particularly since there was always at least one professor with nationalistic views, who took it upon themselves to drill into us the particular idea, that all which Slovenians believe to be true were merely fantasies of the leader of Slovenians at the time, Bleiweis from 1848, and that this ought to suffice for all evidence in this matter to be discarded. However, if we wish to approach the issue in earnest, casting aside humorous insinuations of such murky accounts of our history, then we must truly find that Slovenians, in spite of our national administration, remain without a decent, not to say useful, school book on our history, this goes for public schools, for secondary schools, and even academic circles, for what we do have is but a wretched caricature undeserving of any and all credence. Our Croatian and Serbian brothers are entirely content to see Slovenian historical science at the tail end of some stunted development, for the history, written by Anton Melik and Jank Orozhen, which finally appeared in Yugoslavia and became official in 1928, again failed to introduce a fundamental orientation to the public, such as would testify to our military history, as it was known already in 1836.


In 1928, Austrian professor Avgust Jaksch in Celovec already contributed to these efforts, when he published the first volume of his history of Koroshka (Carinthia) and therein presented the ancient Slovenians as Vends from 508, but he did so while still carefully sending Avars to the forefront and defined the ancient inhabitants as »Scythians«, although all Slovenians know the name »Scythians« was only used to denote those forerunners, who dwelled in camps and were otherwise bereft of regular settlement, but who were occasionally lead by »varuhi« as their protectors, or »jerobi«, were called.

The Carinthian chronicler Megiser was among those who describe them in this way. In his »Annales Carinthiae« he enumerates them chronologically, with thirty mentions altogether. In this work, whosever displayed even mediocre interest in Yugoslav history, has also come upon the mention of Slovenian Duke Vojnimir in 795, who firmly supported Charlemagne in his fight against the Avars. And this is why no one must continue to reference any historical neglect of Slovenian history, even though we do not yet publically know all the secrets of our past.


H. Arnshelm (Leipzig 1701) in his book: »Das historische Labyrinth der Zeit« enumerates seven additional sources of Carinthian history, which Jaksch did not; the likes of this ought not be overlooked in a description of any land.

But precisely concerning our history we know that the »Scythian« raids of our regions took place in different periods, one of which, possibly itself a recurrence of one in antiquity. For, we know from other sources that Redegast, for example, raided our spaces in 400 and again in 564, apparently due to overpopulation in their own areas, and then likewise in 763, when a Slavic people settled near the Black Sea, by the Aterna river. We also know that Goths, who were well known to have only spoken Slovenian, came to the Balkans from Scythia as early as 357.

In all this, it must first and foremost be mentioned that it was Chech Venceslav Jurij Dunder, who already in 1836 had printed in J. Venedikt’s »Slovenian Bookshop« in Vienna Kachić’s book »Razgovor ugodni Národa Slovinskoga« (A Pleasant Discussion of the Slovenian Nation) in Croatian, for which Kachić wrote an Introduction already in 1759. But Slovenians this book was forgotten by Slovenians who remained unaware that Kachić already listed all 50 Slovenian kings after the birth of Christ, which is to be seen as near pathological evidence as to how cursory and slovenly an entire nation’s history can become, if it wander into such historical quagmire.

This is a sad course of events that serves to further remind us of the even greater necessity to take better care of our history in future, lest in the further 18 centuries our history become lost again, which the following description aims to demonstrate.


During the war, I travelled from Russia to take a short leave in Lwowo at which time I visited all the local antiquaries in search of various old books on Slavic languages. It was there that I came upon, by sheer accident, a by then abolished Dunder’s publication, which I proceeded to purchase immediately, for I was previously unaware such a book had ever been published. Today I have to marvel all the more that I spent several decades unaware of it and only learned on this occasion how cruelly the professors in my secondary school had fooled me. (I own one copy of the Dunder book, while the Prague University library s in possession of two others; I am not aware of any existing elsewhere, purportedly there are none in Zagreb or Belgrade, nor in Ljubljana.)

Naturally, I was aware of the exceptional work by our own historian Fran Kos (Ljubljana 1911): »Materials for the Hisotry of Slovenians in the Middle Ages« – but this book also posits a somewhat strange statement (in the Introduction), that one person or another will claim that similar statements in Slovenian language, particularly in print aught not be disseminated, which corroborates that such statements are legendarily repetitious here, a point which the writer addressed bitingly, for every nation must possess at least the amount of life force necessary for the past to finally be sobered by it and to know all historical events. This is doubly necessary for us, since we already know our cultural-historical orientation, because we at least outdo the other nations in this matter.


Already in 1919, we learned that there existed an intent of some covert undermining, which was to demonstrate to the whole of the public that we are not on equal footing with our two brothers. For, after the union of Slovenians, Croatians and Serbs, it fast became evident that we, the most cultured among them, do not think of ourselves as first-rate, as a sort of reciprocal taunting quickly began. This was purportedly instigated by the exceedingly tuberculosis ridden first minister of edification, Gregor Zherjav, who also founded some nationalist academic youth group named »Orjuna«, who was intent on proving that:


a) Slovenians are not a nation on to themselves;

b) Slovenians do not possess a language of their own at all;

c) Slovenians do not possess an individual history.


Zherjav’s successor Svetozar Pribichević followed suit, though he too was opposed by prevalent reasonable intellectuals in Slovenia. Unfortunately, it was impossible to identify all those pathological elements, which bought into that crooked delusion, driven by pure envy and the desire to utterly demean Slovenians before the entire world.


However, this entire argument can be undone in one swoop, for in old Austria for over 600 years no one questioned that Slovenians were a nation, and that we spoke our own language (even in parliament no less), and that we possess our individual history, one which we discern since the birth of Christ.

Could there even exist a Yugoslavia without Slovenians? In 1919 three nations came together to form a union for a new country. We ought not imitate the Czechs and Slovaks who would, for centuries, fail to agree that they are brothers, until such a conclusion was too late.

Concerning our genuine history what we know today is as follows. We must recognise as our first historian the Croatian Franciscan monk Andrij Kachić, born in 1704 in the Dalmatian town of Makarska. When he was but a youth in public school, he came to the Zaostrog Monastery, and after his novitiate, since he felt that this is where he would be able to serve Slavic peoples in various ways, his superiors immediately sent him to Budapest, to study theology and philosophy.

After finishing his studies, he devoted himself predominantly to historical science, he returned to his native land and from there to Venice. There he passed the last of his exams and then again returned to the Zaostrog Monastery, where he was immediately instated as teacher of theology and philosophy, remaining there until 1736. When a Faculty of Theology was founded in Shibenik and Franciscan provenance became focused there, he was immediately called to work there as an associate scientific worker in the field of historical sciences.


Between 1750 and 1758 occurred the most notable accomplishments of Kachić’s life. At that time he set out to research Bosnia and Herzegovina, which later served as a basis of all his further work. There he collected ubiquitously, both in monasteries and presbyteries, all manner of writing, charts, ducale (the Doge’s official documents), diplomas, testimonies and other things, in order to document matters of significance to the Croatian people, or at least those that may become significant later. At this time, he also copied from all manner of Latin, Italian and Croatian chronicles and did not fail to interview older people, priests and all kinds of intellectuals about matters he considered worth noting, for he immediately intuited that all which is not printed in books can easily be lost again or forgotten entirely. A printed book, on the other hand, wanders from person to person, and if it be lost here or there, it quickly reappears elsewhere. His universal aim was therefore to prove everything than can be proven in book form, for the sad history of Slovenians itself clearly testifies to what befalls a nation that never cared for its history enough to commit it to writing.


As a result, it became clear here that no other nation purports a history or notes recorded with a diligence comparable to Croatians. Kachić probably concluded the bulk of his work by 1759, since this year saw the publication of its second addition. The first edition must have been published already in 1756 in Venice, though no copies have been preserved.

Furthermore, in everything he collected he was methodical to such an extent that it is impossible to find a single invention or fairy tale. Even if we may initially turn up something unsubstantiated it is soon followed up by a supplement of some sort. Therefore, we can state with conviction that all noted in these volumes either doubles as the property of the entire cultural world or may come to do so in future, for in the coming times it will all be reviewed and developed where needed.

Kachić died in 1760, just as the previously blossoming Dubrovnik’s notability began to decline. In response Kachić formulated the following basic principles:

a) define the historical accuracy of all folk songs known to the people since times immemorial according to their age, war events and persons ordered by year;

b) bequeath to the nation a genuine history of events in connection to Slovenians, Croatians, Serbians, and Bulgars; these events convincingly represent the truth and are in no way fantasizing or exuberant exaggeration;

c) preserve all names from the heroic age for the nation for all time.


It has not been established just how many times Kachić’s book was reprinted up until now. Aside from the editions published in Venice and Dunder’s in Vienna an alleged print was urported in Budapest, not to mention Croatian editions.

Concerning actual sins of omission and purposeful falsification of our history in general the only thing left to say is the following:

The main culprit for their existence is definitely our Slovenian poet Simon Jenko, who was physically very fragile and was permanently combating dire misery resulting in his early death at 39 (1835 – 1869).

We must consider his poem on »Slovenian history«, which is generally known and widely disseminated in all the collections of his poems, the most tragical such occurrence. It goes like this:


»Slovenian history«


I am gripped by desolation

When I think of how my nation,

To the outer world obscure,

does such disrespect endure.


Big historic golden letters,

Pen all other nations’ matters

Only ours receives no mention,

Past and present no attention.


Who remembers our old vanguards,

Laying low in unkarked graveyards?


Humbly lowly grandson now fares

Over bones of lowly forebears’.


When we run out our clocks,

Our bones will rest beneath the rocks,

Who will wish to learn our story,

Who take pride in our glory?


A line of dying generations,

Is the story of our nation’s,

To the outer world obscure,

does such disrespect endure. –


To be viewed as a somewhat similar »screech owl« is the librarian of the Ljubljana lyceum library, Dr Jozhe Glonar, who took a particular public issue with my book »Slovani kot evropski pranarod« – »Slavs as a European Para-nation«, where I allegedly aggrandized Slaves meritless and witout tradition, responding in the vein of: »We were always nothing and we are still nothing now and will remain to be noting in future, because nothing will ever change in this regard!«

This extreme disdain for our history is now undone by the military history of Slovenians, for it clearly proves that every nations history abounds in both sad and happy days. No one will ever again deem our liberation from under foreign yolk in 1919, after the military downfall of Austria-Hungary, a misfortune. And thus Jenko’s and Glonar’s wretched prophesising will be converted to pure joy. In certain eras history is often repeated, we need only be reminded of how old Vend’s in the age of Teutonic knights, circa 1230, were treated as the law dictated that a Vendish slave woman be disallowed to use German on pain of a 3 mark fine, and if any fled their, master was allowed to nail her ear to the barn wherein he had caught her.


Seven hundred years later, all those repressed vends returned to their Polish homeland, for the history of nations also always repeats in some secret order as is true for us, Slovenians, though we were never in our history subjected to similar experiences. Even during Turkish raids, we were mostly away from the bulk of the action, while the Balkanian Slavs experienced the whole matter quite differently.

The same goes for Roman times. On the most part, the Romans limited their campaigns to main roads, namely Celje, Ljubljana and Ptuj, as the heavily armed Roman soldier was ill-equipped for climbing his way through our hilly landscape. The same goes for the Avars, with whom we seem to have had frequent contact, at least before the Huns lost their supremacy. By chance, we would come in contact with Goths, and here and there with Germans who took care to veer clear of Slavs, but our history refrains from saying anything about any larger battles.


Note. — It is here fitting to inform our reader that there exists no connexion between the writer and the Slovenian Academy, for the latter had not published a single letter of our old history in over one-and-a-half years.

My above text is entirely independent and outside any foreign influence whatasoever.


(from the publication: Slovenska vojna zgodovina od Kr. rojstva do leta 1443; Maribor, 1939)





DAVORIN ZHUNKOVICH (also /Martin/ Schunkovitsch, Shunkovich, Zhunkovich, Zunkovic; 1858, Pódlozhe pri Ptuju – 1940, Ptuj), Slovenian officer, writer, journalist, historian, linguist. After grammar school (Maribor, Celje) and his military term he finished the infantry cadet school in Innsbruck (1882), an officer of Austro-Hungarian military in Moravia and Silezia, in Mostar, Vienna etc. Had five children with his first wife (Ana Trautmann from Olomouc, 18 yrs his junior); after her death (1926) remarried (Josipina Gregorec, nee Starich). Retired in 1911 (cause: »nervous exhaustion« and »Panslavism«). Reinstated on the eastern front (Galicia) at the break of war, charged with negligence, demoted and sentenced to jail then cleared (reinstated to rank): May 1918 with the A-H army in Montenegro as lieutenant colonel appointed commander of Podgorica. After the war, an officer in the Slovenian-Croatian-Serbian military, transferred to Nish; 1921 retired per own request; several years honorary librarian in Maribor’s study library , which he arranged meticulously.

His grammar school teachers, polymaths Josip Shuman and Davorin Trstenjak, incited his interest in linguistics, toponymy, and archaeology belief in indigenous origin of Slavs; he etymologically traced their origins to the ice age and equated them with Etruscans (read their writing in Slovenian as well as »Germanic« runes), Celts, Basques, Goths, Vandals, Veneti, and Phoenicians. Mostly wrote in German (some literary but predominately scientific texts), also Slovene, Czech, Serbian. After Bohorich, Vodnik, Matevzh Ravnikar Pozhénchan and Davorin Trstenjak an originator of Slovenian Autochtonism and Venetology. His writing received positive acclaim with Germans and Czechs, but was rigorously criticised by some Slovenians (with the exception of Henrik Tuma); he was particularly extensively opposed by Jozha Glonar.

Zhunkovich published several erudite books, most significant among them being Die Slaven, ein Urvolk Europas (Slavs the Proto-people of Europe), a bestseller of its time (Vienna, 1911, 6th edition), he publish the paper Staroslovan (Protoslav – in German), numerous shorter texts are scattered in various periodicals. From 1909 he collaborated with Ivan Topolovshek, who developed his guidelines linguistically (in the sense of linguistic monogenesis, in part similarly to later Italian linguist Alfredo Trombetti), and with the Croatian general Marko Crljen (Markus von Czerlien), the author of the book Auf slavischen Spuren (On the Slavic Trails, 1914; latest edition in 2014); his patron was Count Johann von Harrach (of Czech descent).

Here Zhunkovich is presented through two shorter Slovenian articles, which nevertheless demonstrate the core of his ideas: toponymy with etymology and military-economic historic background. The second text is virtually testamentary (immediately before WWII): promoting active Slovenian patriotism, rejecting (Jenko’s) despondency; the above text is merely the introduction, the remaining parts summarize a chapter of Andrija Kachich-Mioshich’s history of the Balkans (From the birth of Christ up to the death of King Tvrtko in 1443). Zhunkovich follows in the footsteps of older writers by using the term Slovenians to include other present day ethnicities. A syntagma derived from the second articles was used as the common title of the two articles.


Selection and Note by Ivo Antich

Translated by Dr. Jaka Jarc




Slovenian (gajica)

Slovenian (bohorichica)