An idyllic abandoned Gottscheer village
The idyllic village of Planina is located in the Municipality of Semič at the southern foot of Mirna gora on a karst plateau at an altitude of 773 m. This clustered village, like many other settlements in Slovenia, is named after a high, mountain position and mountain pastures. The former inhabitants, the Gottscheers, called it Stockendorf and it denotes a derelict land, a place, from which burnt tree trunks have been cleared (bei den Stocken Dorf). Its origins date back to the time before German colonisation and a Slovenian name is documented in historical sources from the 13th century.
At the end of the 16th century, the village belonged to the Lower Kočevje County and was inhabited by up to 40 inhabitants. Among the nine landowners, one was Slovenian and the rest were German-speaking. In 1880, there were already more than 30 houses forming a village of the central type that were situated around the centre encircling a triangular crossroads with a mighty chestnut tree and a chapel.
The population was engaged in agriculture
The population was mainly engaged in grazing livestock. Besides cattle and ovine livestock, pig farming was particularly developed. The scanty soil did not allow for considerable expansion of agriculture, and vegetable was grown in small gardens next to the houses. However, any extra cabbage was sold together with the livestock at the fairs in Črnomelj.
Remnants of the once rich orchards can still be observed today. People mainly grew pears, apples, plums, cherries and walnuts. Dried fruit was an important part of the diet during the colder months, and particularly during the festive season it was mixed into bread. In addition to dried meat, dried fruit slices were an indispensable accompaniment on longer journeys. In addition, vineyards were cultivated in Gorenjci and Rodine.
The mixed forest met the needs of Planina’s inhabitants for building, heating, and household goods, while the skilled processing of wood, especially wooden ware, brought additional income. Later, firewood, logs and sleepers were sold through the Semič and Črnomelj railway stations.
Besides a well and two ponds, a village water supply system operated at Planina during the two world wars. According to Anton Prelesnik in his book Water Sources in the Kočevska Region (Vodni viri na Kočevskem), the village water reservoir at Planina was constructed in 1849 and the old water supply system in 1928. In addition to the village water reservoir that was managed by the entire village community, and which were usually constructed with due diligence because of their higher discharge they were important for the water supply, there is another water reservoir situated not far from the village. It is a water spring, walled with stone masonry or concrete and could easily be drawn. This type of natural water source is prevalent in Kočevska area.
Emigration marked the area in particular after 1890, and after World War I the proportion of the Slovenian speaking population started to gradually increase. The school was opened in 1836, initially in a private house, but 20 years later a dedicated building was constructed, and in 1919 Slovene was introduced as a special subject in the school. In the 1930s, the village with thirty occupied houses were still home to about 120 inhabitants, of whom about 70% were Germans, 7% Slovenians, and slightly less than a quarter declared themselves as having mixed origin.
The Church of St Elijah
Since 1730, the Church of St. Elijah has stood on the outskirts of the village. Previously, a chapel stood on its site, but we do not know the exact year of its construction. Initially it was given the status of a branch in the parish of Črmošnjice, but in 1875 it was consecrated to an independent parish. The church was officially registered as a parish church until 1987, when it was annexed to the parish of Semič, after the abolition of several abandoned parishes in Kočevska area. During the years 1854 and 1857, it underwent major reconstruction. It was burnt and looted during World War II, and was finally rebuilt in 1965, 1984 and finally in 2002.
An auxiliary post office, an inn, a shop and a parish have also operated here. The Planina cadastral municipality comprised the settlements of Planina, Mirna Gora, Ponikve, Sredgora, Škrilj, Pogorelec and Starološki Grič, and in the 1930s it was included in the Municipality of Črnomelj.
World War Two
Between 27 November and 1 December 1941, 115 people from twenty-two houses resettled from Planina via the Semič railway station. During the summer of 1942, the village was burnt down twice by the Italian army. In September 1942, soldiers of the Isonzo Division and partisans of the Cankar and Tomšič Brigades engaged in a battle at Planina.
During the war, the poorer Bela krajina inhabitants and the partisans found shelter in the village, where they established a hospital, a carpentry and joinery workshop, and the National Farm. They also set up various societies, a partisan invalid choir and an acting group.
Planina (Stockendorf) after the Second World War
After the war, the village was settled by agricultural and forestry workers who kept cattle in the newly built stables of the Črnomelj Agricultural Cooperative and performed forestry works under the auspices of the Novo mesto Forest Management. At the end of the 1950s, electricity was brought to Planina with the expenses covered by the cooperative.
Planina has recently become a popular retreat for hikers and day-trippers, and the number of well-equipped holiday cottages and proper permanent residents is also on the rise. A half-hour walk along a beautifully kept trail leads to the mountain hut at Mirna gora, where we can enjoy the view, quench our thirst or refresh ourselves with homemade delicacies that are carefully prepared.
Mitja Ferenc and Gojko Zupan. 2006. Cerkve na Kočevskem nekoč in danes. 2. Ljubljana: Založba ZRC SAZU.
Mitja Ferenc and Gojko Zupan. 2013. Po sledeh Kočevarjev v Črmošnjiško-Poljanski dolini. Dolenjske Toplice: Društvo Kočevarjev staroselcev.
Anton Prelesnik. 2007. Vodni viri na Kočevskem = Wasserquellen im Gottscheerland. Dolenjske Toplice: Društvo Kočevarjev staroselcev; Ljubljana: distribucija ZRC SAZU.
Rozalija Mohar. 2008. Tu so živeli… Semič: Občina.
Božidar Flajšman, field notes.