Jurca, Branca (1914—)

views updated

Jurca, Branca (1914—)

Slovenian writer, best known for her autobiography You're Only Born Once. Name variations: Branka Jurca. Born near Sezana, Slovenia, in 1914; educated in Maribor.

Worked as a teacher, editor and freelance author; was a member of the anti-Nazi resistance during World War II; survived concentration camps to complete her education and embark on a writing career.

Although Slovenia was, along with Croatia, the most prosperous region of Yugoslavia before the country's breakup, a literary culture developed relatively late in this part of Europe. The first full-length novel written in the Slovenian language, Josip Jurcic's Deseti brat (The Tenth Brother), was not published until 1866. By 1918, however, a rich intellectual culture had developed in Slovenia, and different schools of writing were experimenting with the newest trends as well as continuing to build on older, more traditional forms of expression.

Branca Jurca was born near Sezana in 1914. Her life was disrupted by World War II, which resulted in occupation of Yugoslavia by Italian and German forces and led to the emergence of a national anti-Fascist resistance movement. Jurca was active in the resistance as a partisan. She was captured and sent to two concentration camps, first to Gonars and then to Ravensbrück, the notorious camp for women in Germany. Jurca survived the camps and in 1945 returned to Yugoslavia, which was now a Communist republic led by war hero Marshal Josip Broz Tito. Trained as a teacher, she taught for a number of years. In addition, she wrote and published several books and articles, eventually becoming a full-time editor and freelance writer who concentrated on books for young readers. In her autobiographical 1972 volume Rodis se samo enkrat (You're Only Born Once), Jurca won critical praise for depicting with clarity and wisdom a childhood that was marred by war and social upheaval.

In her well-received 1974 novel Ko zorijo jagode (When the Berries Bloom), the bittersweet joys and crises of adolescence are depicted with sensitivity and insight. The novel tells the story of a romantic triangle between two girls, Jagoda and Nejc, who both are interested in Dragi, a teenager in turmoil because of his unstable family life. The story was filmed in Slovenia under the title Strawberry Time, with Rajko Ranfl directing, and was produced by Viba Films with support from the Slovenian Film Fund. Jurca's books have been popular in Slovenia for a generation.


Davison, Milena. "The Waste Land in a State of Siege: Comments on the Contemporary Slovene Novel," in Slovene Studies: Journal of the Society for Slovene Studies. Vol. 3, no. 2, 1981, pp. 72–86.

Jurca, Branca. Ko zorijo jagode. Ljubljana: Mladinska knjiga, 1980.

——. Pod Bicem: podobe iz taborise. Ljubljana: Izdala zalozba Nasa zena, 1945.

——. Rodis se samo enkrat. Ljubljana: Mladinska knjiga, 1984.

Pynsent, Robert B., and S.I. Kanikova, eds. Reader's Encyclopedia of Eastern European Literature. NY: HarperCollins, 1993.

John Haag , Associate Professor of History, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia