Ustje was the first village in Primorska completely burnt down by the Italian fascists in August 8, 1942. With the intention of preserving the history for younger generations we should remember these sad events which fatally signed the life of our village.Surrounded by smoke and fire, threatened with death our parents solemnly declared August 8 the vowed day of the village in case they survived. Reading their true stories everyone can perceive a strong wish that such a terrible day would never come back.
The great tragedy of Ustje inspired a well-known Slovene writer Danilo Lokar, from Ajdovscina who perfectly described it in his short story: "The Doomsday in the Village".


It was summer 1942. At that time there were soldiers of the Italian Alpine Division Giulia (the battalion Val Cismon) placed in the barracks of Ajdovscina. They had just come from Greece to have a short rest before continuing their way to the Eastern Front. The soldiers, weary of the war, looted in the villages and troubled people, especially young girls. 

It was Sunday, 1st August when a bigger group of soldiers came to Ustje and visited the Ladislav Stibilj’s pub. They ordered food and drink. After some hours of drinking they broke into the wine cellar and stole dried and smoked ham. The landlord reported this doing to the commander of the carabineers (the Italian police) in Ajdovscina, Marshalo Cir Pasquale Marone. By many he was respected as an honest man. Responding to the increasing complaints of the local people he persecuted his own fellow-countrymen, above all the soldiers of the Alpine Division Giulia. In this way an old quarrel reappeared between Marshalo and the lieutenant Fanelli dating back to the Marshalo’s decision of expelling the Italian prostitutes from Ajdovscina, which was against the Fanelli’s wishes. It is not surprising that the offended lieutenant and some soldiers plotted against their carabineer college. 

On Friday, 7th August, a group of five Alpine soldiers came to the Stibilj’s pub in Ustje where they drank and bowled all the afternoon. In the evening they wanted the landlord to bring them more wine. He did not want to obey them – it was late and the curfew had become total – so they angrily left making uproar. The lieutenant Fanelly searched Marshalo and found him in the cinema. He enticed him and some soldiers to Ustje under false pretenses that there was partisans’ shooting heard there. 

In front of the village they shot Marshalo from an ambush and dragged his dead body to the entrance of the widow Marija Stibilj’s house. They broke into the house saying that Marshalo had been shot from the small window of the house. The two brothers, Milan and Anton Stibilj, who had been sleeping in the hay-barn, were accused of killing Marshalo. They were forced to go to Ajdovscina loaded on the Franc Cermelj’s cart together with the dead Marshalo. 

Next morning the Alpine soldiers came to Ustje and drove the inhabitants from their homes to the small square in front of the church where machine guns were threatening to kill them all. Pretending that they were looking for guns the soldiers broke into houses and stole everything that had some value. They arrested Anton Vrtovec because they had found some rusty iron from the First World War in his house, his nephew Maks Kante and Metod Strancar. Besides the two brothers Stibilj three more hostages from the near-by village Slap were led: brothers Avgust and Evstahij Podgornik and Ivan Ursic, they were accused of collaboration with partisans. The eight victims - tied and cruelly beaten – were dragged to the west end of the village. Nowadays a monument indicates the exact place where they were beaten to death with rifle butts and stakes. 

The soldiers used incendiary bombs and bullets to burn down the village, that is all together 80 houses in Ustje and 7 houses in the near-by hamlet Uhanje. Only the church with the priest’s house, the school and some other buildings were undamaged. 

In the opinion of the villagers the worst that could happen was prevented by the intervention of the mayor of Ajdovscina, Rizzato. Nevertheless, people were taken to Ajdovscina and crammed into the school. Next day the women and the children were released, whereas men were taken to the prisons of Gorizia where they spent 40 days in uncertainty. 

The eight people killed in Ustje were driven to Gorizia and buried at the cemetery there. 

Alojz Ravbar,  Ustje v krvi in ognju, Borec 1959, st. 9, str. 578 - 580 
Tone Ferenc, Kazenska akcija se je izrodila v vandalizem in ropanje, Italijanski viri o pozigu Ustja pri Vipavi