Marko ZUPANČIČ (1914 – 2007).

MAP OF DACHAU CONCENTRATION CAMP & LEITENBERG:

Ko ni mogel moloh-krematorij vec pozirati svojih zrtev, je bil na tem mestu izkopan grob za tisoce ze razkrajajocih se trupel.

[After the Moloch Crematorium could not swallow its victims anymore, on this spot a grave for thousands of decomposing bodies was dug].

Dachau Concentration Camp, Germany: Late May – Early June, 1945.

Mimeograph on cheap wartime paper (Very Good, mild even toning, old staple mark in upper left corner), 30 x 21 cm (12 x 8 inches).

A deeply disturbing, yet highly important map of Dachau Concentration Camp & vicinity, marking the location of the mass grave at Leitenberg (with the lines: ‘Tu leze zrtve fasizma’ [‘Victims of the Fascism are buried here’]), made by the important Slovenian Modernist architect, former student of Le Corbusier, and Dachau survivor, Marko Zupančič, and printed within the Dachau camp shortly after its liberation.

This extremely rare map was printed in Dachau Concentration Camp, near Munich, Germany, probably in late May or early June 1945, shortly after American forces liberated it.  The map depicts the general location of the camp, and, importantly focuses on the nearby location of the mass grave, today known as Leitenberg.  The map was made by the subsequently prominent Slovenian Modernist architect, former student of Le Corbusier, and camp survivor, Marko Zupančič, while he waited to be processed out of Dachau.  While the map is not singed by Zupančič, a note within the newspaper Dahavski Poročevalec,no. 30confirms that he is the author of this map, along with another map that specifically focuses on Dachau camp.

The map depicts the vicinity of Dachau Concentration camp, featuring the outlines of the town of Dachau and surrounding villages, major roads, and notably the location of the camp itself, on the right side of the map, labelled as ‘Plantaža’.  All 32 of the camp’s dormitories, along with all of other major building are clearly visible. 

Importantly, at the centre of the map, is the location of the Leitenberg mass grave, surrounded by the inscription: ‘Tu leze zrtve fasizma’ [‘Victims of the Fascism are buried here’].

In the winter of 1945, when the Nazi criminals knew they had lost the war, but before the arrival of Allied forces in Germany, they focussed great energy on covering up their crimes.  The Moloch Crematorium at Dachau was unable to swallow up all of the thousands of victims of their brutality, so at the end of February 1945, the Nazis decided to create a mass grave nearby, at Leitenberg. 

The surviving prisoners, including Zupančič, watched with horror as the Nazis transported at least 7,609 bodies to bury in the mass grave.  While both Dachau survivors and the war criminals involved were well aware of Leitenberg, the Nazis went to great efforts to erase any record of its existence.  Thus, it is possible that the present map is the earliest surviving written record of this crime scene.  It is certainly the first printed map to specifically show its location, and is one of perhaps only maps of Dachau made by a survivor within the camp itself (the other being Zupančič’s other map).

To be clear, the present work was made at the Dachau Camp in either late May or early June 1945, while the camp was under American administration.  The camp was liberated from the Nazis by the U.S. Army on April 29, 1945.  However, while the Americans went to great efforts to dramatically improve the conditions of the camp’s residents, most of the former prisoners were obliged to remain in the camp for some weeks until being processed out.  Not only did the Americans need to screen the rolls for people who were potential security risks to the Allies, but it was also considered unsafe or very difficult for many of the internees to return home.  Moreover, there were issues of infectious diseases within the camp, and doctors mandated a quarantine period.  Time was required for all the appropriate arrangements to be made, and so thousands, including Zupančič, remained in Dachau.  

The Americans facilitated activities and diversions for the internees as they awaited their release.  A small number of residents requested, and were given, the resources to publish newsletters and small visual works, giving rise to the present map.  Like other existing works printed by survivors in Dachau, this map is mimeographed on a relatively small sheet of cheap wartime paper, from stock that was probably left behind by the departed German staff.

The present map appears to have been both issued separately, and also as a supplement to the final issue (no. 30) of Ludwig Mrzel’s newspaper, Dahavski Poročevalec,issued within the Dachau camp on June 5, 1945.  A caption within the paper specifically notes that the three items, including the present map;Zupančič’s other map focusing closely on the Dachau Camp itself; and Božidar Pengov’s poignant image Ne moremo z vami – toda ne pozabite nas! were altogether supplements to this issue of the newspaper.  It is thought that Zupančič’s two maps and Pengov’s moving image were originally separately printed and distributed well before June 5, 1945, in some cases to non-Yugoslav internees who had little use for the newspaper.  It follows that the leftover stock of these prints was affixed to copies of the final edition of the newspaper so that they could be distributed as precious souvenirs to the departing survivors (that being the last occasion to do so).

Marko Zupančič (1914 – 2007), the author of the present map, was an important Slovenian Modernist architect and a survivor of the Dachau Camp.  He was born in Ljubljana, the son of Oton Zupančič (1878 – 1949), one of the most famous Slovenian poets and playwrights, and the father of Modernism in Slovenian literature.  Marko started out drafting many of the illustrations for his father’s works, before studying architecture at the University of Ljubljana under the legendary Jože Plečnik.  In 1939, Zupančič was chosen to intern under Le Corbusier in Paris, the ultimate honor for a modernist architect.  After a year in Paris, he was forced to suddenly return home upon work of the outbreak of war between France and Germany.  He left on the last train out before the Blitzkrieg reached the city.  His freedom in Yugoslavia was short lived, as after the Italian takeover of Ljubljana, in April 1941, Marko was interned in the Gonars Concentration Camp, Italy, for being an ‘intellectual’.  After Italy’s capitulation in September 1943, Zupančič was released, but was soon re-arrested by the Nazis and interned in Dachau, where he befriended the Yugoslav Partisan internees.  Given his skills as a draftsman, it makes perfect sense the he was author of the two maps of the camps made as souvenirs for internees shortly before their release.

After the war, Zupančič was very much en vogue in newly Communist Yugoslavia.  He had a major role in designing the new planned city of Nova Gorica (1947-8) and built the Parliamentary Club (1946-7) in Ljubljana, known as the only definitively Le Corbusier-style edifice in Yugoslavia (sadly torn down by idiots in the early 1990s).  Zupančič’s career building grand public edifices prospered through the 1950s; however, Modernism fell out of style in 1960s Yugoslavia, and his work was limited to smaller private commissions of the rest of his long career.