ARTEMIC #13 | Partisan print by Vito Globočnik (1920–1946), Triumph

Who will triumph? In this part, curator Marko Jenko, PhD, presents a Partisan print by Vito Globočnik (1920–1946) with the title Triumph from Globočnik’s print portfolio Herrnvolk (May 1945). The linocut portfolio was published as a book. This print is included in the Partisan art section of the permanent exhibition of 20th century art in Moderna galerija.


“In the 1930s, Vito Globočnik was one of many young Slovenian artists that studied art at the Zagreb academy. Like most people, WWII did not spare him. In 1941, he was already participating in illegal printing. After he was jailed by the Croatian Nazi collaborators Ustashe, he was sent to two Italian camps in September 1942, first to Monigo and then Padova, where he was imprisoned until May 1943. During this time, he drew portrait studies and scenes from life in the camps. In September 1943, after the capitulation of Italy, he joined the Partisans. During this time, he was very much creative: he illustrated the paper Borba, led the painting section at the propaganda department of the General Headquarters; he also designed flyers, stickers, made illustrations, paperback covers, etc. All the while he also drew portraits, caricatures, scenes from Partisan life, and funny pages. His most famous work is the print portfolio Herrnvolk, which was published immediately after the end of WWII, in May 1945. Globočnik began sketching the scenes already in October 1944, when he joined the Centralna tehnika printing operators. I remember that in 1960 these scenes were described as ‘the crimes of savage fascist beasts.’ Legitimately so. The scene with the title Triumph is especially disturbing. The visual means are meagre, rough, and the overall effect stems from the view from below. As with the so-called scorcio: the figure of the Nazi is extending into space, rising up toward the sky. It triumphs over the dead body of a woman, who obviously died a painful death: her mouth is half open, the spread fingers of her hand imply rigor mortis, she is barefoot, and her knees are as if scratched. It goes without saying that scenes of rape are also present in our Partisan prints, for instance in the work of Dore Klemenčič – Maj. The Nazi officer stands with one foot on the woman’s body: his legs are apart, he stands nobly, as a master, his arms are crossed and his obscene, smug face distorted (if that indeed is a face), already resembling a skull—death. In the background, which is in such clear contrast engraved into blackness, we see hung people. The whiteness as some sort of light source only emphasizes the figure of the Nazi. Let me conclude in this way: after his mother was caught taking food to Partisans and then (supposedly before his still teenage eyes) stabbed by the Ustashe, and after all that he witnessed while fighting against the occupying forces, also with Tito at Neretva and Sutjeska, my grandfather wrote in one of his testimonies that after he saw a woman in the snow with her limbs dying off due to gangrene, still holding half alive children, one thought continued to haunt him: ‘In my mind I am repeating to myself one and the same thing: revenge and only revenge…’ Who could hold this against him?”


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