May 2021


Postcard and stamp with Joco Žnidaršič's photographs from 12 June 1991

Among the most iconic and most often shown photographs from the Slovene independence period are those taken by Joco Žnidaršič on 12 June 1991, with the Slovene tricolor on Triglav and intended for publication in the Celebration Delo. One photo, which was also printed on postcards and on a commemorative stamp, became nationalized. In it, a kinship was identified with Joe Rosenthal's photograph from the Battle of Iwo Jima, in which U.S. Marines raise the U.S. flag on top of Mount Suribachi. The same motifs are repeated in the two photographs: the peak, raising the flag, the silhouettes or those photographed placed in the centre, in the background an endless view of the sea and sky or clouds, alpine peaks and the sky. The meanings of the photographs are different, though. The flag in Žnidaršič's photograph was hoisted by a team of mountain rescuers on the white snow of the highest Slovene mountain with the help of a police helicopter, and symbolizes the birth of the country. The raising of the flag in Rosenthal's Pulitzer prize-winning photograph in 1945, however, takes place amid the ravages of war and in the context of the huge casualties among the Japanese and American soldiers. Rosenthal's photograph testifies to victory by military success, while Žnidaršič's photograph testifies to victory from the success of the nation. Despite the awkward fact that some people see the Russian flag in the tricolor rather than the Slovene national colors, at a time when we did not yet have a new coat of arms, Žnidaršič's photograph is still an iconic shot after thirty years.