As World War II dawned, Maribor, along with the entirety of Slovenia, was swallowed by Nazi Germany. Boasting strategic positioning and industrial capacities, the city morphed into a vital cog in the German war machinery. This annexation birthed a ruthless period of Germanization, marked by brutal oppression of the Slovene populace—forced conscription into the German forces, sweeping arrests, deportations, and executions.

Maribor’s Jewish community, once a vibrant slice of the city’s demographic, faced the severest of tribulations during this era. Before the war, Maribor cradled one of Slovenia’s most dynamic Jewish communities. However, as the Holocaust loomed, virtually all Jewish inhabitants of Maribor were exiled to concentration camps, including Auschwitz, where the majority met their tragic end. The Maribor Synagogue, a pillar of Jewish life, was seized by the Nazis and repurposed.

On the physical front, Maribor bore the brunt of significant damage during World War II, courtesy of Allied bombings aimed at crippling German industrial output and communication. The war left large swaths of the city in ruins, with reconstruction efforts spanning many years.

The close of World War II heralded a major shift in Maribor’s political and societal landscape. The city was assimilated into the nascent socialist Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia (later the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia). This transition precipitated a period of industrialization and reconstruction, coupled with a stifling of the memory of wartime atrocities, which only began to be acknowledged post Slovenia’s independence in 1991.

Today, Maribor’s landscape is etched with numerous scars of its World War II history, yet it stands as a city that remembers and honors its past. The restored Maribor Synagogue now serves as a cultural hub, hosting exhibits reflecting the history of Maribor’s Jewish community. The city’s World War II narrative is also etched in various monuments and memorial plaques.