At the start of the war, Maribor, like the rest of Slovenia, was annexed by Nazi Germany. The city, because of its industrial facilities and strategic location, became an important center for the German war effort. The annexation led to a brutal period of Germanization, with severe repression of the Slovene population, including forced conscription into the German army, mass arrests, deportations, and killings.

Maribor’s Jewish community, which had been a significant part of the city’s population, was especially affected during this period. Before World War II, Maribor had one of the most vibrant Jewish communities in Slovenia. However, with the onset of the Holocaust, virtually all of Maribor’s Jewish residents were deported to concentration camps, including Auschwitz, where most of them perished. The Maribor Synagogue, once a central part of Jewish life in the city, was confiscated by the Nazis and repurposed for other uses.

In terms of physical impact, Maribor suffered extensive damage during World War II due to Allied bombings aimed at disrupting German industrial production and communication. By the end of the war, large parts of the city had been destroyed, and the rebuilding process took many years.

The end of World War II also marked a significant shift in Maribor’s political and social context. The city became part of the newly formed socialist Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia (later the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia). This led to a period of industrialization and reconstruction, but also to a suppression of the memory of the war atrocities, which only started to be properly addressed after Slovenia’s independence in 1991.

Today, Maribor bears many scars of its World War II history, but it also remembers and commemorates its past. The Maribor Synagogue, for instance, has been restored and is now a cultural center that hosts exhibitions about the history of Maribor’s Jewish community. The city’s World War II history is also remembered through various monuments and memorial plaques.