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History of Slovenes in Europe

(a Review by Anton Škerbinc)

The recently published book Veneti:  First Builders of European Community, Tracing the History and Language of Early Ancestors of Slovenes is the most comprehensive study of the early history of Slovenes, and is one of the few works to challenge the heavily flawed history writing of Central Europe.

The three authors, Dr. Jozko Šavli, an economics professor; Matej Bor, a linguist, poet, dramatist; and Ivan Tomazic a Catholic priest, all natives of Slovenia, worked separately researching the history and language of their nation.  Later they joined forces and in 1988 published their findings first in the German language, in 1989 in Slovene, in 1991 in Italian, and finally in 1996 in English.

In the course of their research they discovered that the origin of Slovenes or Slovenians was shrouded in a number of improvised theories which had essentially no documentary or historical foundation, that these theories have been disseminated for nationalistic reasons by the dominant history schools of Central Europe since the middle of the last century, and have been accepted as the true account of the history of Slovenes.  These makeshift theories were accepted by Slovenes themselves with very few exceptions.

The strongly held assumption that Slovenes were South Slavs, and that they came to their present homeland in the 6th century A.D., was found to be no more than a well-disguised device to "prove" that Slovenes had no indigenous rights of domicile in Central Europe, that they were intruders who had to be controlled, assimilated, and denationalized.  The process of forced assimilation has been vigorously imposed for centuries and continues to be carried out by the dominant powers of Central Europe.

Equally unrealistic and hypothetical were the theories concerning the national identity of the ancient Veneti.  The official Venetologists have maintained in the majority of cases - for no apparent reason - that the Veneti were an Italic people, although there were also some cautious indications that the Veneti, who came from the north into the area of the northern Adriatic and the Alps during the Bronze Age, could have been of Slavic origin.  The latter suggestion was generally dismissed and research regarding the identity of the Veneti came practically to a standstill until the publication of this work.

According to Bor, the reason for the unproductive status of Venetic research is this:  "The Slavic linguists have 'ceded' the Venetic language to western researchers, from among whom there is probably not one who has full command and intimate knowledge of the Old Slavic or the modern Slavic languages, and also of the surviving Slovene dialects which play an extremely important role in this undertaking."

Another area of unresolved study is the question of the proto-language of Central Europe.  This problem is essentially straightforward; but, for no valid reason, it was dismissed by linguists.  The leading Indo-Europeanists were generally satisfied with the view that the language of pre-Indo-European Europe was unknown, and that there was no need to probe beyond this assumption.  This attitude prevails to this day.

However, the findings of Šavli, Bor, and Tomažič turned the existing historical and linguistic image of Europe upside-down, and created a profoundly disturbing new insight into Europe's distant past.

In Part One, Dr. Šavli presents a survey of the prehistory of central Europe.  He then takes us on a journey through the remains of the Venetic culture and language, especially to the Alpine region and northern Italy between the Po River and the Alps.  According to the authors, the Veneti (not to be confused with the Venetians) were a Proto-Slavic people, and they were the bearers of the Urnfield culture in Central Europe.  They settled in Austria, Slovenia, northern Italy, and eastern Switzerland around 1200 B.C.  In their original settlement area there are to this day countless Slovene place-names.

The reader will wonder why the connection between the Veneti and Slovene place-names.  The answer is simple.  According to the authors, the Slovenes are direct descendants of the Veneti.  They are even now called the "Windische" by their German neighbours and "Vendek" by the Hungarians, and they still live in the territory of the ancient Venetic Este culture in Slovenia, Italy, Austria, and Hungary.  Their language is closely linked to the Venetic language.  In reality, most of the terms used by the ancient Veneti in creating the toponyms in the area of the Alps are still used in the modern Slovene language and its numerous dialects.

In Part Two, the mysteries of the Venetic inscriptions are unveiled.  These inscriptions belong to the oldest monuments of written language in Europe.  Scholars had not been able to decipher them until Matej Bor found in the Slovene language the key to their translation.  Although the Venetic inscriptions are more than 2000 years removed from contemporary Slovene, the similarities between the two languages are such that these important cultural monuments can still be understood.  Years of Bor's research into the Venetic inscriptions proved not only that the ancient Venetic language was (contrary to official linguistics) Proto-Slavic, but also that in the Slovene language is its continuation.

In Part Three, Ivan Tomazic brings together all components of the so-called Venetic theory:  the earliest known people of Central Europe were the Proto-Slavic Veneti; the Slovenes are West Slavs, descendants of the Veneti; the original language of Central Europe before the arrival of the Indo-Europeans was Slavic.

He includes the important study of similarities between the Sanskrit and Slovene languages.  The similarities are extensive and could have originated only around 2000 B.C. when the indigenous Slavic language of Central Europe and the language of the newly-arrived Indo-Europeans merged.

The individual segments of the study may seem puzzling or even preposterous at first sight, but one soon discovers that the totality of the so-called Venetic theory is well grounded and is the only plausible explanation for the problems plaguing the research into the indigenous language and the subsequent development of Indo-European languages.  It also resolves the question of the ethnic identity of the bearers of the Urnfield culture and their descendants.

The authors maintain the difficulties of history writing in Europe are mainly those of political interference and nationalism.  There is throughout the book a strong sense that solutions to all these questions could have been found long ago had there not been intense resistance on the part of those who were creating history to suit their own national agenda of prestige and superiority.

Veneti:  First Builders of European Community represents a long overdue effort to review the flawed historic image of Central Europe.  One of the aims of this work is to draw attention to the need for unbiased and improved research methods.  It has attracted considerable attention and recognition among scholars and laymen in Europe.  It has also drawn sharp criticism from those who cannot accept the fact that they made wrong decisions in the area of historiography and linguistic and archaeological legacy.

The authors have gathered an astonishing amount of material, creating an invaluable reference work which belongs in every public and private library and should be read by every student of history, particularly those interested in Central Europe and former Yugoslavia, and especially every person of Slovene descent.

"The book is worth ten times its selling price (a personal opinion).  It is a must-read for anyone interested in the origins of the Slovene people and the restoration of Slovenian integrity with respect to understanding European history and pre-history.

"It is more than clear that we can no longer accept the 'Slovenians crawled out of the swamps and over the Carpathian Mountains to settle in Slovenia in the sixth century' theory - and good riddance to it!  It has never been very flattering, and it is refreshing to see such clear evidence to the contrary. I recommend the book highly!" says Linda Lenassi Tomlin, President of the Canadian Chapter of The Slovenian Genealogy Society of America.

VENETI:  FIRST BUILDERS OF EUROPEAN COMMUNITY is in English, published by Editiones Veneti, Vienna 1996; translated and printed in Canada, hardbound, 534 pages, 150 illustrations, index, USA and Australia 29.00 USD, Canada 34.00 CND.  Postage included.  Quantity discounts are available.  For more information, or to order this important new publication write to:

Anton Škerbinc, Site 1, Box 17, R.R. 1, Boswell, B.C. VOB 1AO Canada
or Ivan Tomazic, Bennogasse 21, A -1080 Wien, Austria

Page Created: October 5, 2003

Last Updated: October 6, 2003

©Copyright 2003 Gary L. Gorsha