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Monument To International Camp Victims

Podljubelj, Slovenia
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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 Mrvic, 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!/Obtozujem!" ("I Accuse!") written on the plinth. The largest number of the prisoners were French.

Architect Boris Kobe, who in 1977 received the State-awarded Presernova 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 Joza 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.