Bleiburg is a small town
A town is a human settlement larger than a village but smaller than a city. The size a settlement must be in order to be called a "town" varies considerably in different parts of the world, so that, for example, many American "small towns" seem to British people to be no more than villages, while...

 in the south Austria
Austria , officially the Republic of Austria , is a landlocked country of roughly 8.4 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the...

n state of Carinthia
Carinthia (state)
Carinthia is the southernmost Austrian state or Land. Situated within the Eastern Alps it is chiefly noted for its mountains and lakes.The main language is German. Its regional dialects belong to the Southern Austro-Bavarian group...

 , south-east of Klagenfurt
-Name:Carinthia's eminent linguists Primus Lessiak and Eberhard Kranzmayer assumed that the city's name, which literally translates as "ford of lament" or "ford of complaints", had something to do with the superstitious thought that fateful fairies or demons tend to live around treacherous waters...

 , in the district of Völkermarkt, some four kilometres (2.5 miles) from the border with Slovenia
Slovenia , officially the Republic of Slovenia , is a country in Central and Southeastern Europe touching the Alps and bordering the Mediterranean. Slovenia borders Italy to the west, Croatia to the south and east, Hungary to the northeast, and Austria to the north, and also has a small portion of...

located in the valley of the Feistritz river, north of the Petzen
Peca (mountain)
Peca or Petzen is a mountain in the Karavanke Mountains on the Slovenian–Austrian border. The highest peak is on the Slovenian side of the border , while most of the mountain lies in Austria.- External links :...

 massif of the Karawanken
Karavanke or Karawanken is an Alpine mountain range on the border between Slovenia and Austria. With a total length of 120 km, the Karavanke chain is one of the longest ranges in Europe....

  mountain range. It is home to a district court
District court
District courts are a category of courts which exists in several nations. These include:-Australia:District Court is the name given to the intermediate court in most Australian States. They hear indictable criminal offences excluding treason, murder and, in some States, manslaughter...

, military barracks
Barracks are specialised buildings for permanent military accommodation; the word may apply to separate housing blocks or to complete complexes. Their main object is to separate soldiers from the civilian population and reinforce discipline, training and esprit de corps. They were sometimes called...

 and to the local productive and services industry. The name of Bleiburg, literally meaning "Lead Castle", can be attributed to the lead
Lead is a main-group element in the carbon group with the symbol Pb and atomic number 82. Lead is a soft, malleable poor metal. It is also counted as one of the heavy metals. Metallic lead has a bluish-white color after being freshly cut, but it soon tarnishes to a dull grayish color when exposed...

Mining is the extraction of valuable minerals or other geological materials from the earth, from an ore body, vein or seam. The term also includes the removal of soil. Materials recovered by mining include base metals, precious metals, iron, uranium, coal, diamonds, limestone, oil shale, rock...

 operations in the Petzen mountain.

According to a 2001 census, Bleiburg has about 4,100 inhabitants. 30.4% of the population are Carinthian Slovenes
Carinthian Slovenes
Carinthian Slovenes are the Slovene-speaking population group in the Austrian State of Carinthia. The Carinthian Slovenes send representatives to the National Ethnic Groups Advisory Council...

 (in 1971, they were 52.8%). The municipality consists of the twelve Katastralgemeinden Aich (Dob), Bleiburg, Grablach (Grablje), Kömmel (Komelj), Moos (Blato), Oberloibach (Libuče), Rinkenberg (Vogrče), Sankt Margarethen (Šmarjeta), Schattenberg (Senčni kraj), Unterloibach (Libuče), Weißenstein (Belšak) and Woroujach (Borovje). It can be further divided into 23 villages:


The oldest surviving document mentioning the town as Pliburch is dated to 1228. Bleiburg received town privileges
Town privileges
Town privileges or city rights were important features of European towns during most of the second millennium.Judicially, a town was distinguished from the surrounding land by means of a charter from the ruling monarch that defined its privileges and laws. Common privileges were related to trading...

 in 1370. The annual Wiesenmarkt (meadow market) has taken place every year at least since 1428 on September 1.

Between 1918 and 1920, Bleiburg was occupied by Yugoslav
Kingdom of Yugoslavia
The Kingdom of Yugoslavia was a state stretching from the Western Balkans to Central Europe which existed during the often-tumultuous interwar era of 1918–1941...

 troops. In spite of the overwhelming Slovene majority in the area, the town remained in Austria after the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire along national/ethnic lines after the end of World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

. In the Carinthian Plebiscite
Carinthian Plebiscite
The Carinthian Plebiscite on 10 October 1920 determined the final southern border between the Republic of Austria and the newly formed Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes after World War I.- History :...

 of 1920, in fact, the inhabitants of southern Carinthia rejected the proposal to unite with the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (Yugoslavia), and chose to remain in Austria. In the district of Bleiburg, however, the majority of the population cast its vote for Yugoslavia.

In May 1945, Bleiburg was the initial location of the Bleiburg massacre
Bleiburg massacre
The Bleiburg massacre, which also encompasses Operation Keelhaul is a term encompassing events that took place during mid-May 1945 near the Carinthian town of Bleiburg, itself some four kilometres from the Austrian-Slovenian border....

, in the course of which Yugoslav Partisans
Partisans (Yugoslavia)
The Yugoslav Partisans, or simply the Partisans were a Communist-led World War II anti-fascist resistance movement in Yugoslavia...

 executed thousands of Ustasha and Slovenian Home Guard, as well as civilians, who surrendered to the British forces under Harold Macmillan
Harold Macmillan
Maurice Harold Macmillan, 1st Earl of Stockton, OM, PC was Conservative Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 10 January 1957 to 18 October 1963....

 only to be forcibly repatriated
Operation Keelhaul
Operation Keelhaul was carried out in Northern Italy by British and American forces to repatriate Soviet Armed Forces POWs of the Nazis to the Soviet Union between August 14, 1946 and May 9, 1947...

. In early September 2004, the Austrian media
News media
The news media are those elements of the mass media that focus on delivering news to the general public or a target public.These include print media , broadcast news , and more recently the Internet .-Etymology:A medium is a carrier of something...

 reported that the Croatian government had decided to purchase a plot of land near Bleiburg in order to erect a monument to commemorate the massacre, which sparked some minor political controversy in Austria.

Controversy over the bilingual place sign

The town of Bleiburg became famous in Austrian and Slovenian media in the years 2005 and 2007, due to a long controversy over the erection of a bilingual place name. The controversy was part of the decade-long Carinthian place sign struggle (Kärntner Ortstafelstreit).

In December 2005, the Constitutional Court of Austria ruled that the topographic sign at the entrance to the town of Bleiburg was unconstitutional, since it was written only in German, and ordered the erection of a bilingual, German-Slovene sign. In February 2006, the then Governor of Carinthia Jörg Haider
Jörg Haider
Jörg Haider was an Austrian politician. He was Governor of Carinthia on two occasions, the long-time leader of the Austrian Freedom Party and later Chairman of the Alliance for the Future of Austria , a breakaway party from the FPÖ.Haider was controversial within Austria and abroad for comments...

 personally moved the German sign for a few meters, hoping to create a new legal situation that would require a new decision of the Constitutional Court.

However, already in March 2006, the district commissioner of Völkermarkt
Völkermarkt (district)
Völkermarkt District is an administrative district in the Austrian State of Carinthia.-Municipalities:Völkermarkt is divided into 13 municipalities, of which 2 are towns and 3 market towns.-Towns:*Bleiburg...

 issued an official ordinance, ordering the erection of a bilingual sign in accordance to the decision of the Court. However, the right wing governor Jörg Haider refused to carry out the ordinance of the commissioner, further fanning the controversy's flames. In August of the same year, Haider personally added a plaque with the Slovene name of the town (Pliberk) under the German one. In December 2006, the Austrian Constitutional Court declared such action illegal, reiterating its decision that proper bilingual signs should be erected.

In February 2007, the Carinthian Regional Prosecution started a legal procedure against the governor Haider and his deputy Gerhard Dörfler
Gerhard Dörfler
Gerhard Dörfler is an Austrian politician, who is currently serving as Governor of Carinthia from October 27, 2008 , following Governor Jörg Haider's sudden death in a car accident....

 for official misconduct in the case of the Bleiburg place sign. Haider died in a traffic accident near Köttmannsdorf on 11 October 2008, aged 58.


Seats in the municipal council (elections as of 2003):
  • ÖVP
    OVP is a three-letter abbreviation that may refer to:*The Office of the Vice President of the United States*The Office of the Vice President of the Philippines*OVP , a light sub-machine gun developed in Italy...

    : 9
  • SPÖ
    - Technology :SPO: Microsoft SharePoint Online, Microsoft Cloud Computing, Office 365. See Microsoft Online Services-Economics:* Secondary Public Offering, an equity capital market instrument...

    : 8
  • Enotna Lista
    Enotna Lista
    The Unity List or EL seeks to represent the autochthonous Slovene minority in Carinthia. It came into existence in 1991, replacing the "Club of Slovenian Local Councillors" , which had existed as an initiative of local Slovenian party lists from various local councils...

    : 5
  • FPÖ
    FPO may refer to:*Fleet Post Office, a "city" designation in military mail *Field post office, a term for military post offices in military mail systems *For position only, a designation for placeholder graphics...

    : 1

Currently, the mayor of Bleiburg is Stefan Visotschnig from SPÖ
- Technology :SPO: Microsoft SharePoint Online, Microsoft Cloud Computing, Office 365. See Microsoft Online Services-Economics:* Secondary Public Offering, an equity capital market instrument...

 and a member of the local Slovene minority.

Notable people

  • Kiki Kogelnik
    Kiki Kogelnik
    Kiki Kogelnik was an Austrian painter, sculptor and printmaker. Born in a small town in southern Austria, she studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna and moved to New York in 1961....

    , artist
    An artist is a person engaged in one or more of any of a broad spectrum of activities related to creating art, practicing the arts and/or demonstrating an art. The common usage in both everyday speech and academic discourse is a practitioner in the visual arts only...

    , born January 22, 1935 in Bleiburg, died February 1, 1997 in Vienna
    Vienna is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Austria and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primary city, with a population of about 1.723 million , and is by far the largest city in Austria, as well as its cultural, economic, and political centre...

  • Anton Webern
    Anton Webern
    Anton Webern was an Austrian composer and conductor. He was a member of the Second Viennese School. As a student and significant follower of Arnold Schoenberg, he became one of the best-known exponents of the twelve-tone technique; in addition, his innovations regarding schematic organization of...

    , composer
    A composer is a person who creates music, either by musical notation or oral tradition, for interpretation and performance, or through direct manipulation of sonic material through electronic media...

    , spent Easter and summer vacations at his family's estate called Preglhof, in the countryside near Bleiburg, until 1912
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