A total of over sixty people worked in all the hospital’s wards. Some were sent there from other partisan units, while others were former patients who joined its staff after recovery. Before the war, the hospital staff were engaged in various professions; most of them were workers, farmers and craftsmen, while some were students and officials. Compelled by current needs they turned into nurses, builders, stewards, etc.
“Trustworthy people are of great support in our life. For me, one such person was Dr Viktor Volčjak.”(Dr Franja Bojc Bidovec)
Viktor Volčjak was born in Virmaše near Škofja Loka, into a working family. He completed his medical studies in 1938 and, three years later, opened a private medical practice in Žiri. In 1943, he started offering medical help to the partisans; in November that year he came to Cerkno to treat the wounded of the 31st Division. He was the founder and the first manager of the hidden hospital in Dolenji Novaki near Cerkno, which he named Franja. By naming hospitals after real people he wanted to highlight the importance of women such as Dr Franja Bojc, who cared for the sick and wounded during the war. In the beginning of 1944 he was appointed head of the Ninth Corps’ Medical Section, yet he frequently continued visiting the Franja Hospital. One day, when he rode to the hospital on a motorcycle, he came upon a German convoy heading to Idrija. Fortunately, he turned towards Cerkno at Želin and passed unnoticed. In July 1944, at the same time as Dr Franja Bojc, criminal proceedings were brought against him. He was suspended and detained, but after two months released due to the lack of evidence. In his memories, Dr Franci Derganc gave an interesting explanation as to what may have triggered the accusations. “When I first saw Dr Volčjak at Lokve, he wore a long beard and long hair. This may have given to some the impression that he was a sympathizer of the chetniks and a professional saboteur.” This statement is very indicative of the wartime paranoia. Even the slightest suspicion could lead to serious consequences. Subsequently, Dr Derganc established new hospitals in Brda.
For more on the above investigation, see the publication by the Archival Association of Slovenia: Mateja Jeraj, Jelka Melik, Partizanski zdravniki in pravniki med stroko in politiko (Partisan doctors and lawyers between profession and politics), Ljubljana, 1996.