Loibl North


In 1943, two satellite camps were established for Mauthausen at the Loibl Pass (Ljubelj) on the Austrian-Slovenian border. One camp was located on the south side and was called Loibl south and was established in June. The second camp was located on the north side and was called Loibl north and was established a few months later. The camps were about 1000 meters high and a transfer there was considered by both prisoners and guards as a form of punishment. The first 330 prisoners to arrive at the southern camp in June were 330 French political prisoners from Mauthausen. The purpose of the camps was to use the prisoners as slave workers for a tunnel construction through the mountain (Loibl pass). Previously, the transports had crossed the mountain, but through the tunnel construction, the transports would be more efficient. Little food, heavy work, demanding climate, tough environment and the guards’ power over life and death made working conditions difficult, but in December 1943 they had been dug through the mountain (1500 meters).

Exactly how many died from work or other causes cannot be determined. The prisoners who were no longer considered able to work were sent back to Mauthausen where the most frequently murdered. But about 40 prisoners were murdered in the camps and the SS set up two primitive crematoria, one at each camp, to cremate dead prisoners. The area around the Loibl pass was also rich in partisans and about 30 prisoners managed to escape and join the partisans. The northern camp was gradually dismantled in mid-April 1945 due to increased partisan activity in the area and the prisoners were evacuated to the southern camp, about 200 prisoners were also transferred back to Mauthausen. In connection with the German army’s retreat from Slovenia via the Loibl pass in May, the southern camp also began to be evacuated through the tunnel. These prisoners were soon liberated by the Partisans.

Current status: Demolished with information boards (2011).

Location: 46°26'37.76"N 14°15'05.79"E

Get there: Car.

My comment:

The Nazis were unable to destroy the camps and were therefore intact when it was liberated. But already in June 1945 the camps began to be dismantled because the material was needed elsewhere in the post-war ravaged Europe. The passage through the mountain remained closed until 1950 and the preservation of the two camps took different forms. On the Slovenian (jugoslavic) side, a memorial park was established in 1954, while the camp on the Austrian side fell into disrepair due to disputes over who owned the land. It took until 1995, on the fiftieth anniversary of the liberation, that, under pressure from survivors, a memorial plaque was created. These paintings are not located at the camp site but were placed at the tunnel entrance. In 2004, the former camp area was listed as cultural-historical land and only in 2008 the landowners issue got a solution. In 2009, the former camp area was finally cleared and there are several physical remains that it is planned to become part of a future memorial park, similar to the one found in the south sidan. Until then, the visitor must be content to take part of the majority of information boards that are located just outside the camp area.

Follow up in books: Kogon, Eugen: The Theory and Practice of Hell: The German Concentration Camps and the System Behind Them (2006).