Vilma Bebler Pirkovič – a versatile socio-political worker and publicist
Vilma Pirkovič, born Bebler, was born on 12 September 1918 in Gorizia. Her father, Vilko Bebler, was a soldier and served as a commanding officer in Gorizia at that time. Two months after Vilma’s birth, her family escaped to Yugoslavia, first to Ljubljana and later to Ptuj, where she attended the primary and secondary school. After graduating in 1936, she enrolled the Faculty of Agronomy in Zagreb, but paused the agronomy studies in 1940 just before graduation and finished it 11 years later. During her secondary school years, she participated in the left-leaning student’s association and was the vice-president and secretary of the Slovenian left-wing association Triglav in Zagreb. In 1938, she was accepted to the League of Communist Youth of Yugoslavia. In the same year, her father died and her mother moved to Novo mesto to live with her older daughter Ela, who was a Master of pharmacy and worked in the pharmacy led by Boris Andrijanič. Vilma spent her holidays in Novo mesto and quickly established contact with the advanced local students. She took part in searching propaganda material in the Sokol library. In 1940, Vilma cooperated in the League of Communists of Slovenia; therefore, she could not graduate although she had passed all exams. Due to her communist activities, she was imprisoned in 1941. After the Yugoslavia attack, she was set free and moved to Ljubljana, where she worked at the
central committee of the League of Communists of Slovenia (CK KPS). From 1941 to 1942, she served as a partisan courier for the head commands. As she joined the Partisans in 1942, she was in charge of the political work in the Novo mesto area. From 1942 she cooperated in the youth political leadership until the liberation: Between 1943 and 1945 she was the first president of the Slovenian Youth Association, in 1944-1945 she was a member of the League of Communist Youth of Yugoslavia Provincial Committee and of the bureau of the United Association of Anti-Fascist Youth of Yugoslavia central committee (USAOJ). During the war, she was actively involved in the publicists’ area. She was the co-editor of Mladina and the editor of Mlade pesti, she has published her works in the newspaper Slovenski poročevalec and other free print publications. After the war, she kept on publishing her contributions on political work at the University of Zagreb, youth associations before and during the war, the Partisan medical care, the life and work of Vinko Kristan and her personal memories in various bulletins, newspapers and magazines (Ljudska pravica, Delo, Naša vas, Kmečki glas, Naša žena, Dolenjski list, Občan, TV-15, Komunist, Sodobno gospodinjstvo).
In 1945, she married Franc Pirkovič and moved to Vienna, where he worked as the leader of the delegation for repatriation, with him.
After returning from Vienna, she worked at the Secretariat of Agriculture and Standard of Living by the Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia Economic Council from 1947 to 1950. Between 1951 and 1959, she was employed among the managing staff of the Slovenian and Yugoslav cooperative organisation. In 1953, the Pirkovič family moved to Novo mesto, where Franc Pirkovič took up the presidency of the district People's Committee. Vilma Pirkovič was driving to work in Ljubljana until 1959, when she was appointed vice-president of the district People's Committee in Novo mesto. She served as vice-president until 1963 and stood up for improvement of education, healthcare and culture. Between 1963 and 1967, she worked in Klagenfurt, where her husband was appointed Consul General. After returning home, she asked for early retirement due to illness. She died on 23 November 1993.
Besides regular work, Vilma Bebler - Pirkovič was active in political, cultural and expert organisations. She was a member of the Socialist Alliance of Working People of Yugoslavia Lead Committee, a member of the CK KPS Revision Commission, a member of the Republic Assembly and a vice-president of the Slovenian Manufacturers’ Association for a few years. She has been the president of the Association of Slovenian Female Members of Cooperatives for long, she has worked on activating and educating of country women, she represented the Yugoslav female members of cooperatives at numerous international congresses abroad and presented various papers there etc.
As a political worker, she contributed to the development of Novo mesto, especially in the period when she worked as the vice-president of the Novo mesto District Committee, where she was in charge of the social services. In the obituary by Lado Smrekar, published in the newspaper Dolenjski list (28 November 1996) it was written: “At that time, the Dolenjska region has gained a lot. Let me mention just a few of accomplishments: the publishing house Dolenjska založba was established, the magazine Dolenjski zbornik started to come out, the Museum of Dolenjska was reorganised, the Gallery of Dolenjska was built, the Miran Jarc Library faced a great development, the Dolenjska cultural festival thrived along with the sculptors’ symposium Forma viva. She was always near, encouraging and enthusing others and exerting herself. She was very hard-working, she spoke many languages and always played piano and accordion in a joyful company.”
We should add at least two achievements in Novo mesto and the Dolenjska region, which Vilma Bebler - Pirkovič took initiative for: the inter-municipal fund for building schools, which served as an example for similar funds elsewhere in Slovenia, and the fund for building health-care institutions, which contributed the funds for building the new hospital in Novo mesto, were established in the Novo mesto area.
Vilma Bebler - Pirkovič has received many state awards for her work (the Order of Merit for People with silver rays and the Order of Merit for People with a silver star) and the Commemorative Medal of the Partisans in 1941.
Vilma Bebler - Pirkovič. Slovenski biografski leksikon. Accessed on 19 July 2017 at http://www.sistory.si/cdn/publikacije/1-1000/268/Primorski_slovenski_biografski_leksikon_12.pdf
Lado Smrekar: Vilma Bebler – Pirkovič. Dolenjski list, 28 November 1996, No. 48, p. 2. Accessed on 19 July 2017 at http://www.dolenjskilist.si/media/arhiv-pdf/dl/1996/DL_1996_11_28_48_2468.pdf
Jarc, Janko: Bogato revolucionarno življenje. Accessed on 19 July 2017 at http://www.dolenjskilist.si/media/arhiv-pdf/dl/1978/DL_1978_10_05_40_1521.pdf