Unique surviving wall map used by the Slovene Partisan High Command

Karta slovenskega ozemlja. 1: 200.000. [“Map of Slovenian Territory. 1: 200,000.”] [Primorje region, Slovenia:] Geodetska sekcija Glavnega štaba NOV in POS [“Geodetic Section of the Headquarters of the National Liberation Army and Partisan Detachments of Slovenia,”] May 10, 1944.
Mimeographed map on 4 joined sheets, 36 ½”h x 50 ½”w, hand colored in outline.
$5,500

Thought to be the only known surviving complete example of a wall map made exclusively for the use of the Slovene Partisan High Command during the Second World War. From the estate of the Partisan general and war hero Ivan Maček.

The map depicts the numerous Partisan military divisions across Slovenia and the eastern part of the Friuli region of Italy, which with its mixed Slovene-Italian-Friuli population was a hotbed of Partisan activity. The base map is a mimeographed copy of the Zemljevid slovenskega ozemlja (Ljubljana, 1921), the first great map of Slovenia made after World War I to employ Slovene toponymy in lieu of the German, Italian and Hungarian names favored during the Habsburg era. It was selected on account of its symbolic significance during a time of foreign occupation. An example of the 1921 map may be viewed here, though the download time is slow.

An unknown partisan draftsman then hand-outlined military provinces in red and their constituent sectors in blue, with the locations of the headquarters in each sector marked by blue rectangles. It conveys the intensity of Partisan activity in the Primorje region (along the Adriatic coast and the Italian border) and the adjacent areas of Northeastern Italy, which since 1927 had been the epicentre of an anti-Fascist rebellion.

A tiny, three-peaked symbol, hand drawn in a remote area on the Gotenica Snežnik mountain in southern Slovenia, indicates the top-secret location of the recently founded “Triglav” Partisan press. Triglav was one of
only two underground Partisan printing operations to feature modern, electric presses, and as such was extremely valuable to the resistance effort. Its location was known only to the High Command of the Slovene Partisans and the printers themselves, as well as a small number of trusted couriers. It is not clear whether the base map was printed by the Triglav press, or by one operating secretly in the Primorje region.

This map was made expressly for the Slovene Partisan High Command. Pin holes and other damage to the corners suggest that it was taped and pinned to the wall of their headquarters in the Primorje region, the location of which moved from time to time. The map was presumably used during deliberations at the highest levels in planning military strategy and operations. The information depicted thereon was extremely sensitive, and great efforts would have been made to ensure that it did not end up in enemy hands.

Provenance
According to a manuscript note on the verso, the map came from the estate of Ivan Maček (1908 – 1993), a Partisan general and war hero. A senior member of the pre-war Yugoslav Communist Party, Maček joined the Partisans and fought with Tito in Bosnia, notably at the epic Battle of Drvar (May 5 – June 6, 1944). He subsequently returned to his native Slovenia where he became a field commander of the Slovene Partisans during the final push to victory. It is worth noting, perhaps, that the Slovene Partisans—properly, the National Liberation Army and Partisan Detachments of Slovenia—acted autonomously for much of the war until integrating with Tito’s Yugoslav Partisans in late 1944.

As a principal of the Slovene Partisan High Command, who was one of the original users of the present map, it seems that he retained it as a prized souvenir once the war had concluded. Highly regarded by Tito, in the years following the war, Maček served as the Interior Minister and Vice-President of Slovenia, in addition to holding other senior positions in both the Slovene and Federal Yugoslav governments. Although Maček was
a famous man and a noted collector of Yugoslav historical documents and memorabilia, he passed away in relative obscurity. It seems that only the last-minute intervention of a former neighbor saved it from disposal after his death, and it then passed to a private Slovenian collector before entering the map trade.

This is the only complete Slovene Partisan “Headquarters” map known to have survived. Very few such maps were ever made, and the vast majority did not survive the war, due either to wear, mishap, or intentional destruction for security reasons. These “Headquarters” maps should not be confused with the, pocket maps consisting of quarter sections of the present map, but printed on much thinner paper. These were to be carried in the field rather than being displayed in command centers.

References
Cf. Branko Korošec, “Vojaške topografske karte – arhivsko kartografsko gradivo,” in: Arhivi, 1984, I-II, pp. 5-14.

Condition

Trimmed to neat line at an early date, old soft folds, very minor losses near margins and along folds, small marginal tears, and few small pin holes. Several areas of cello tape recently removed.