Slovenians in the Netherlands
Slovenian returning emigrants in Heerlen before their departure to Kamnik in 1947. Centre: Anton Maruša. (Photo: studio 19, Geleenstraat 19, Heerlen).
In 1946, the new utopian state of Yugoslavia began a campaign to convince [Yugoslav] emigrants across the world to return to their homeland where they would be able to help with the foundation of a new communist society. Not only did the propagandists talk of 'a final opportunity [to return home]', the country had to be built and it was the duty of emigrants to assist in this. Returning emigrants were promised gifts of gold: these included a home, a job; in short, a good life. They were also told that this would be their final opportunity to return home to their homeland. If they did not return now, they would never again be able to visit. This was a once-only offer, the fare for the trip was paid and everything organised. Those who travelled were allowed to bring furniture and supplies with them on the train. On 21 September 1947, a transportation departed from the Netherlands, which carried around 200 Slovenians from Limburg. The transportation was organised by ex-mineworker and café-owner Anton Maruša. The Yugoslav government made available passenger and freight carriages expressly for this purpose. As the train passed along its journey through each country the wagons were hooked up to a new locomotive. The train's final destination was the town of Kamnik. For many, the remigration project resulted in great disappointment as promises of work and housing were not delivered on. In the very same year, (1947) the first attempts were made to flee Yugoslavia. During the years 1946 to 1948, 2,788 emigrants returned to Yugoslavia from overseas and at least 38,355 returned from Western Europe.
Združenje Slovensko Izseljenska Matica 19