AUßENLAGER-LOIBL (aka Loiblpaß)
The southernmost of all camps within the Mauthausen system, the Loiblpaß was the location of a pair of camps - three if the civilian work camp nearby is included, one of which was an official satellite of KZ-Mauthausen.
Officially named Arbeitslager der Waffen-SS, the southern camp (Loibl-Süd) was established in June 1943, at an altitude of almost 1,000m (over 3,100ft). Prisoners mostly worked at the massive tunnel driving project, a 1,561m long effort planned as a link through the mountains. Organisation Todt had began the survey project and road construction work as far back as 1941. By 1943, the first inmates had arrived at Loibl-Süd, designated as "Detachment-X" at the main camp Mauthausen, they arrived at Loibl in early June. Most of this initial transport were French (316 of the 330 arrivals). Although the vast majority of the inmates worked at the tunnel, an early detachment from the south camp were deployed to construct the northern camp, "Loibl-Nord", which was completed during autumn 1943. Monthly transports brought hundreds more inmates, with Poles, Soviets, Yugoslavs, Czechs and Germans the most numerous. During 1944, the prisoner strength reached its peak at over 1,200 prisoners - in both camps. Transports often returned sick or exhausted prisoners, broken by the arduous labour and poor conditions at Loibl, to the main camp at Mauthausen. Others were sent back to the Stammlager as a form of punishment. The northern camp, at an altitude of 1,100m (over 3,600ft), saw the worst conditions. Not only were the inmates treated more severely by the guards, but the weather was worse. In time, the camp became known as "Hell in the Mountains".
Loibl-Nord consisted of typical wooden barracks, surrounded by doubled electrified barbed wire fencing, six wooden watchtowers with machine guns and a "crematorium" construction - a ditch with brick walls, upon which an iron grid was placed. Bonfires were added upon which the corpses of the dead were burned. Loibl-Süd also had such a structure. Both camps had organised boxing competitions, with Kapos and some of the prisoners competing, as in other Konzentrationslagers. For a short while, the southern camp even held football matches between different nationalities among the civilian workers. French and Polish inmates eventually set up resistence cells, some prisoners even managed to escape whilst travelling to or from their work detail. Each time this occured, the SS exacted a typically brutal response. Once, the entire prisoner population were forced to remain standing outside the camp in deep snow through the whole night. Another escape, which saw three Soviets break away, one of the guards killed and two more seriously injured, resulted in severe reprisals. After selecting over 100 Soviets, who were then beaten continuously for an entire day and night, the SS transferred the group to the main camp where they were killed in the gas chamber. Another form of punishment was to force "Corridas" during the work day. One such event took place on the French national "Bastille Day" holiday (14th July 1943), when from 7:00am til 7:00pm, the prisoners were forced to run non-stop with wheelbarrows laden with heavy stones, to and from the tunnel project under a barrage of whips and truncheon blows, meted out by the SS guards and Kapos. The tunnel breakthrough came on 4th December 1943, with the first Wehrmacht vehicle passing through exactly a year to the day later.
The staff, recruited from the 3.SS-Totenkopfsturmbann at the main camp, were supplemented by police guards from the SS-Alpenland unit. Golden Party Badge holder SS-Hauptsturmführer Jacob Winkler (SS member no.3764), ran the southern camp, with SS-Hauptscharführer Lemmen, and later, SS-Oberscharführer Paul Gruschwitz and his deputy, work detachment leader SS-Oberscharführer Walter Brietzke, in command of the northern camp. SS-Hauptsturmführer Dr.Siegbert Ramsauer, who had earlier served at Sachsenhausen-Oranienburg and Dachau, acted as camp doctor for all three sites. He was responsible for selections of prisoner to be returned to Mauthausen - and near certain death, also deeming inmates due to travel "unfit", resulting in their murder soon after - by his own hand. Prisoners also had to fear dentist visits, when an unqualified dental technician, or even mechanic, would rip out the teeth of inmates without any form of medicine. A minimum of 33 inmates died at Loibl, nearly half of whom were shot "attempting escape", the official term for execution following some form of transgression. Eight others died in the infirmary, some of whom were killed by Ramsauer.
On 15th April 1945, the SS began to dismantle the northern camp due to the increased activity of nearby partisans. All inmates of Loibl-Nord were then transferred to the southern camp. Loibl-Süd existed for a few more weeks before it too was dissolved. Approximately 120 inmates were left behind following the abandonment of the site. The SS leaving with around 950 inmates on foot, headed for British positions near Klagenfurt. Partisans eventually freed the prisoners following a diversion in their route caused by heavy fighting.
British Military Tribunals in Klagenfurt led to the following punishments for several of the Loibl staff:
Winkler (Kommandant of Loibl-Süd) - sentenced to death, executed March 1948.
Brietzke (number 2 at Loibl-Nord and work detachment leader) - sentenced to death, executed March 1948.
The above pair had been found guilty as main culprits in numerous murders.
Grunschwitz (Loibl-Nord Kommandant) - sentenced to 12 years
Loibl-Nord SS-Raportführer Karl Sachse - sentenced to 20 years
Six other members of Loibl staff received sentences ranging from 3 to 9 years.
All who received prison terms were released after serving only a few years, mostly before 1955.
Three other SS men were tried years later, although only one was punished, receiving a 10 year sentence.
Many expected Klagenfurt native SS Doctor Ramsauer to receive the death sentence, but instead, he was sentenced to life imprisonment. He was released in March 1954, employed at the local hospital and eventually set up his own private practice, where he worked as a respected doctor and citizen, until his death in 1991.
Today, various commemorative markers show the location of the former camps, one on the Austrian side of the border, the other, on Slovenian territory.
1) Map of the region
2) Present day image of Loibl-Süd
3) Lagerplan of Loibl-Nord (see key below)
1) Haupteingang (main entrance)
2) SS Guard House
4) Doubled electrified barbed wire fencing
5) Wooden walkway
6) Appellplatz (roll call area)
7) Lagertor (camp gate)
8) SS barracks
9) Waschraum (wash house)
10) Küche (kitchen)
11) SS guard's room
12) Work shed
13-17) Häftlingsbarracken (prisoner barracks)
20) Electric barbed wire fence - single layer