Marko Lipus, who grew up in Carinthia, always knew that his paternal grandmother, Maria Karničar, had disappeared when his father was just six years old. The experience had been so traumatic for writer Florjan Lipus that his mother's absence and mysterious fate became the subject of two of his books.
“The Gestapo came and took my grandmother from her house in 1943 - her children witnessed this. She was taken to Ravensbrück and they never found out what happened to her - except that she died in February 1945,” Lipus told The Local.
Many women in the all-female camp died from disease or starvation, and several thousand prisoners were gassed before the camp's liberation in April 1945.
He doesn't know on what charges his grandmother was arrested, but says that Carinthian Slovenes were persecuted by the Nazis and believes that she could have been helping partisans who were hiding out in the woods and mountains of Carinthia.
Lipus has visited the site of Ravensbrück over the course of a year and photographed it in different seasons. “I wanted to put myself and my camera in the footsteps of my grandmother - it's not a documentary work but rather a subjective re-imagining of what might have happened to her.”
The SS destroyed the camp's records and removed as many prisoners as they could as the Soviet Army approached in the spring of 1945, forcing over 24,500 prisoners on a death march. “This book should be some contribution to all the victims of national socialism who were never properly buried,” Lipus said.
As the book is self-funded and the printing and design costs are high, Lipus is using crowdfunding site wemakeit.com to raise money to help with the costs.
A €35 contribution guarantees you a copy of the book, and larger donations will be rewarded with a personal tour of the artist's studio in Vienna with coffee and cake (€120), your own private photo shoot with Lipus (€250), your name in the book's acknowledgements and a limited special edition print of 'Kratzung Blau 16' (€360), or a signed and limited edition copy of one of the images featured in the book (€720).
The book, titled Babica, will be published in Spring 2016. To help fund the book go to: https://wemakeit.com/projects/fotobildband-babica
Photo of Marko Lipus: Stefan Zeisler