Keywords Change this

Monument, Yugoslavian Modernism, Metal, Stone

Project timeline

1950 – 1954


Monument & Memorial

Location Change this


Architect Change this


Joža Bertoncelj


Article last edited by Bostjan on
October 24th, 2019

Monument To International Camp Victims Change this

Podljubelj, Slovenia
by Boris Kobe Change this
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Description Change this

In the newly annexed territory of Slovenia, north of the river Sava, the Nazis were strenuously building an infrastructure network, which included the road tunnel through the Karawanks. For this purpose, they organised two labour concentration camps on either side of the mountain in 1943 using prisoners from camp Mauthausen. In the spring of 1944, a mass escape was being prepared in the camp, aided by the Carinthian Partisan detachment. However, the plot was foiled due to domestic treason (Stane Mrvič, National Museum of Contemporary History). The camp was in operation until 7th May 1945.

In commemoration of the suffering in the concentration camp a monument on the upper part of the tunnel was built. It consisting of five stone-shaped legs that form a circle in the middle. In 1964, plates were inscribed on these legs with inscriptions in the five languages ​​of the nations to which the internees belonged. The memorial park is arranged in the territory where the ground plan of the former camp is still visible today. The memorial park is laid on the slightly downsloping terrain as if in a cascade with the central memorial monument placed on its edge. The park's configuration follows the terraced layout of the former camp, nowadays marked only by sundry remains of the central barracks. A more monumental element is the composition of five tall, sharply truncated masonry blocks built from the rocks taken from the scree where the camp had been located. Five walls inscribed in five languages of the internees symbolise the tall trough valley surrounding the skeleton-thin famished prisoner. With his arms up in the air, he cries his "J’accuse!/Obtožujem!" ("I Accuse!") written on the plinth. The largest number of the prisoners were French.

Architect Boris Kobe, who in 1977 received the State-awarded Prešernova prize for architecture, painting, monument design, book illustration and pedagogical work, made detailed life-size drawings for the figure which was then wrought by blacksmith Joža Bertoncelj from Kropa. The holistic spatial composition was unfortunately cloven in two by the new road to Ljubelj mountain pass, which separated the central part of the monument from the associated wider landscape layout. The monumentality of the memorial park is further compromised by the uncontrolled expansion of the forest.



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