Boris Kobe (1905-81) was a Slovenian architect and painter who became a political prisoner in the concentration camp of Allach, a sub-camp of Dachau, near Munich, Germany.
These images are from reproductions of the original cards provided courtesy of the Slovenian delegation (Slovenian Ministry of Education) to the Stockholm International Forum Conference in the year 2000. Reproduction sets of cards were given to educators who attended the Swedish government sponsored conference in order to help identify an aspect of the victimization of one Slovenian political prisoner who became a prominent architect after the war.
The contextual framework and point of departure of the art project is a deck of tarock/tarot cards made in Allach by Kobe most probably after the April 1945 liberation by American forces (see card XXI which depicts liberation, the Slovenian flag,and a tombstone-like image marked Allach which is aflame). As a whole, this work of art represents a visual summary of life in a concentration camp, the main vehicle of which consists of Kobe's tragic and humiliating sequences spiced with acrid humor. At the same time, this tiny exhibit is a miniature chronicle of the twilight of humanity brought about by Nazism, which regarded a human being, and therefore the artist himself, as a mere number.
The installation has the character of an integral work of art or an ambience that, apart from the visual and spatial elements, is enriched by music. The artistic metamorphosis of the traditional danse macabre theme is the focus of the projection, which emphasizes the phenomenon of violence as the greatest evil of 20th century European history.
Allach, a sub-camp of Dachau, was ten miles from the main camp and was liberated on April 22, 1945 by American forces, 42nd Rainbow Division
After the war, Kobe did no more work as far as is known about his camp experiences. He was, however, a major Slovenian architect. One of his projects was the restoration of the Ljubljana Castle with famed architect Jože Plečnik
The cards shown below were drawn with double images: for every one that is "right side up," there is an inverted section. Both views are shown below, hence there are two Roman numbered cards for each with scenes from Allach Labor camp.
There is no occult meaning in these cards. They should be read as a dramatic visual memoir of the horrible life of the Nazi concentration camps, as well as images of some people who had positions of power as KAPOs in the camp (prisoners who supervised other prisoners).
The original set of cards are in the Archives of the Republic of Slovenia.
More information on the tarock card game can be found in:
Title: Der Stollen / Oswald Burger. [Hrsg. vom Verein Dokumentationsstätte Goldbacher Stollen und KZ Aufkirch in Überlingen e.V.]
Authrod: Burger, Oswald