Location: 20 km (12 mi) East of Linz Map
Established: August 8, 1938
Liberated: May 5, 1945 by the US Army
Perished: 119,000 people
9am-5pm daily (last admission 15 minutes before closing)
Closed: Dec 24-26, Dec 31, Jan 1
Cost: €2 adults, €1 children
The Mauthausen concentration camp was the largest Nazi concentration camp in Austria, the Ostmark, from 1942 the Alpen- und Donau-Reichsgaue. It was located 20 kilometers east of Linz in Mauthausen and existed from August 8, 1938 until its dissolution after the liberation of its inmates by US troops on May 5, 1945. Around 200,000 people were imprisoned in Mauthausen and its subcamps, from which killed more than 100,000. Since 1947 there has been a memorial of the Republic of Austria on the site of the former concentration camp.
Construction of the camp
On March 22, 1938, ten days after the "Anschluss" of Austria, the Reichsfuhrer SS Heinrich Himmler announced in Linz: "The Führer has approved and ordered that the Austrian Schutzstaffel may set up two standards, one standard of the available troops with 3 storm banners and a standard of the Totenkopfverbande with also three storm banners, which will come to Upper Austria.”
This was only an indirect announcement of the construction of the concentration camp, because at that time the SS Totenkopf units were only deployed in the concentration camps; but also in March 1938 Gauleiter August Eigruber announced: We Upper Austrians will receive another, special award for our achievements during the combat period. The concentration camp for the traitors of the people from all over Austria came to Upper Austria.
Founding of Deutsche Erd- und Steinwerke GmbH
The history of the Mauthausen concentration camp began with the founding of a GmbH by the SS. The main reason for this was the expansion of power and the desired independence of the SS from the state apparatus.
On April 29, 1938, shortly after the annexation of Austria to the Third Reich, Deutsche Erd- und Steinwerke GmbH (DEST) was founded in Berlin. From the time it was founded, it was an advantage for DEST that the main administration for all concentration camps was first with the SS Executive Headquarters (SS-FHA) until March 16, 1942 and with the SS Economic and Administrative Main Office (WVHA) from March 19, 1942 .
From the start, DEST was able to access cheap labor from the concentration camps. One of DEST's first actions was the acquisition and commissioning of quarries near Flossenbürg, Gusen and Mauthausen. This was also decisive for the establishment of concentration camps near these cities. Important granite quarries were located near Mauthausen and Gusen. At that time, large quantities of granite were needed for the so-called Führer buildings, and at Mauthausen and Gusen there was also the fact that Hitler planned to make Linz a “Führer city”, for which large quantities of granite were also needed. Mauthausen and Gusen are only 15 and 12 kilometers east of Linz on the Danube.
Establishment of the camps
On May 16, 1938, the SS put the Mauthausen quarry into operation with 30 forced labourers, and on August 18, 1938 the final handover of the quarries to DEST took place. The quarrying operations in Gusen were also acquired by DEST on May 25, 1938 through purchase and later through expropriation and subsequently formed the center of the Mauthausen granite works with works group management in St. Georgen an der Gusen.
The first prisoners in Mauthausen were 300 Austrian and a few German police preventive detention prisoners. They arrived at the concentration camp on August 8, 1938 from the Dachau concentration camp. With them came the first guards from SS Totenkopf units. The first commander of the Mauthausen concentration camp was Albert Sauer.
On November 27, 1938, the first train with prisoners arrived at Mauthausen station.
Mauthausen main camp – camp level III
From March 1939, the Mauthausen concentration camp was expanded into an independent camp.
Around 200,000 people were deported to Mauthausen and its subcamps by 1945. There were people of over 30 nationalities. About 2.5 percent of the inmates were women. Young people and children were also arrested and murdered.
For unknown reasons, the Mauthausen concentration camp was the only category III concentration camp in the territory of the Reich. Category III meant annihilation through work. One reason for this may be the isolated location of the camp at the quarries. The decree by Reinhard Heydrich (Head of the Security Police, the SD and SS Obergruppenfuhrer) states that camp level III is "...for heavily burdened, incorrigible and at the same time criminally convicted and antisocial, i.e. hardly educable protective prisoners of Mauthausen". .
A total of 197,464 prisoners were imprisoned in the concentration camp. The last prisoner number - 139,317 - was issued on May 3, 1945, not counting the Soviet prisoners of war who were murdered by the "Aktion Kugel".
Around 120,000 prisoners perished or were murdered as a result of forced labor in the countless commandos and sub-camps of the camp, more than a third of them in the nearby Gusen concentration camps.
On the orders of Himmler, the first of ten prisoner brothels was
set up in Mauthausen in June 1942. Women who were classified as
"asocial" were forced to do this. Many of these women who were
forced into prostitution came from the Ravensbrück concentration
camp for women. If women contracted a sexually transmitted
disease, they were made available for medical experiments.
Pregnant women were subjected to forced abortions.
Until the 1990s, those affected were not considered victims of Nazi rule and received no compensation.
The commandant of the Mauthausen concentration camp was initially Albert Sauer, who officially held this position from August 1, 1938 to April 1, 1939. From mid-February 1939, Franz Ziereis acted as camp commander; he remained so until the dissolution in 1945. He was supported by an I., II. and III. Protective custody camp commander as head of the prisoner camp and commander of the SS guards. From March 1940 to 1945, SS-Hauptsturmfuhrer Georg Bachmayer acted as I. Schutzhaftlagerfuhrer, as II. Schutzhaftlagerfuhrer between 1938 and 1945 SS-Obersturmfuhrer Johann Altfuldisch, as III. For a time, the leader of the protective custody camp was SS-Hauptscharführer Anton Streitwieser, who was later promoted to officer.
On May 23, 1944, SS-Obersturmfuhrer Otto Riemer was dismissed as commandant of the prisoner camp. SS Obersturmfuhrer Anton Ganz became his successor. He had previously served at Mauthausen, Ternberg and Wiener Neustadt. In May 1944, four SS leaders, 128 SS subordinates and a 475-strong guard were under his command.
See also: Category:Mauthausen concentration camp staff
escape and manhunt
On the night of February 2, 1945, about 500 Soviet officers attempted to escape from death block 20; almost all of them were murdered during the three-week persecution campaign that followed (see also the so-called “post duty” of the concentration camp guards). This war crime became well known in 1994 through the film Hare Hunt - There is no mercy because of sheer cowardice. Some of the eleven survivors were hidden or cared for by the population until the end of the war. In May 2001, a first memorial stone was erected in Ried in der Riedmark. On May 7, 2006, a memorial was ceremoniously handed over in Gallneukirchen, where around 20 refugees who had already been miserably abused had been murdered.
Additional incinerators, which had been dismantled before the crematoria in the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp were blown up, were to be set up before the end of the war. It has not been proven whether this plan was delayed by the SS construction manager himself or by prisoners until the end of the war.
Shortly before the liberation, prisoners were murdered in the concentration camp, the exact number of which is unknown.
In April 1945, the SS began destroying all files that referred to their crimes in the camp. This also included the dismantling of the gas chamber that had been set up in 1941 in the basement of the infirmary. The technical equipment of the gas chamber such as the gas filler neck, exhaust air fan and doors were dismantled but were later secured on the camp grounds. The SS men then fled and the prisoners were guarded by the Volkssturm and the Vienna Fire Brigade.
On May 5, 1945, the camp was liberated by the advancing troops of the 3rd US Army's 11th Armored Division. Louis Häfliger, who was in the camp as a delegate of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to accompany a food transport, played a major role in this.
The Mauthausen and Gusen I, II and III concentration camps were the penultimate to be liberated. The Stutthof concentration camp near Danzig was liberated four days later.
On May 16, 1945, Heinrich Dürmayer read out the following “Mauthausen Oath” for the International Committee on behalf of all former political prisoners of Mauthausen:
“The long stay in the camp has deepened our understanding of the values
of the brotherhood of peoples.
Faithful to these ideals, we swear, in solidarity and in common agreement, to continue the fight against imperialism and national incitement. Just as the world was liberated from the threat posed by Hitler's supremacy through the joint efforts of all peoples, we must regard this freedom that we have fought for as the common good of all peoples.
Peace and freedom are the guarantees of the happiness of peoples, and building the world on new foundations of social and national justice is the only way towards peaceful cooperation between states and peoples. After we have achieved freedom and after fighting for the freedom of our nations, we want to keep the international solidarity of the camp in our memories and draw the lessons from it: We will walk a common path, the path of the indivisible freedom of all peoples, the path of mutual respect, the path of working together in the great work of building a new, free world that is just for everyone.
We will always remember the great bloody sacrifices of all nations that fought for this new world.
In memory of the blood shed by all peoples, in memory of the millions of brothers murdered by Nazi fascism, we pledge that we will never leave this path. On the secure foundations of the international community, we want to erect the most beautiful monument that we can erect to the fallen soldiers of freedom: THE WORLD OF THE FREE MAN.
We turn to the whole world with a call: help us in this work. Long live international solidarity! Long live freedom!"
The Austrian federal government has set up a museum in a building of the former concentration camp; the rest of the camp and the adjoining quarry are now a memorial site.
Many nations and victim groups have created memorials and plaques on the site for their victims and for the liberation struggle. There is also a monument of the GDR there with the words of Bertolt Brecht: "O Germany pale mother / how your sons have treated you / that you are sitting among the people / a mockery or a fear!"
Since 2003 there has also been a newly built visitor center outside the site, designed by Herwig Mayer, Christoph Schwarz and Karl Peyrer-Heimstätt.
In the largest contemporary witness project of its kind after Steven Spielberg's Shoah Foundation, the Mauthausen Survivor Documentation Project questioned 859 survivors from 20 nations according to the same pattern, also about the time afterwards: "How do the survivors explain their survival?" There are 2000 hours of interviews on film and MiniDisc. The memorial's visitor center shows 20 edited videos. The unevaluated material awaits financing and translation of the mostly native-speaking surveys.
May 5, the anniversary of the liberation of the concentration camp by the Allies, has been celebrated in Austria since 1998 as a national day of remembrance against violence and racism in memory of the victims of National Socialism.
In January 2007, hurricane Kyrill caused severe damage to some of the buildings in the former concentration camp, especially Barrack 1. Emergency measures were taken to secure the damaged buildings, and the restoration lasted until 2009.
An archaeological project is also being carried out as part of the redesign of the memorial.
On November 27, 2007, a commemorative plaque was unveiled at Mauthausen station. On November 27, 1938, the first train arrived here; In the years that followed, tens of thousands of prisoners had to walk more than three kilometers to the camp.
With effect from January 1, 2017, the federal institution "Mauthausen Concentration Camp Memorial/Mauthausen Memorial" (in short: Mauthausen Concentration Camp Memorial) was established with its own legal personality. It is intended to contribute to anchoring and preserving knowledge about the National Socialist mass crimes in the former Mauthausen concentration camp, in the former Gusen concentration camp and in all satellite camps in the public memory, to promoting social reflection on their causes and consequences, on references to all forms of To educate and counteract racism, anti-Semitism, xenophobia or genocide.
In 2018, a Mauthausen Memorial Research Prize will be awarded for outstanding research work on the history of the Mauthausen concentration camp complex and related topics for the first time. This is intended to stimulate research into the history of the National Socialist camps in Austria, with particular attention being paid to promoting young researchers. The research prize is endowed with 5000 € and can be split between two prizewinners.
Right-wing activities around the memorial
In January 2006 it became public that members of the Braunau Bulldogs football fan club had posed in front of the concentration camp memorial with the Hitler salute. Some of them were sentenced to suspended prison terms in the same year for being involved in Nazi activities.
On the night of February 11th to 12th, 2009, on the evening before the start of the Austrian Civil War in 1934, the outer wall of the memorial was daubed with right-wing extremist slogans for the first time. In February 2010, election candidates from the Wels citizen list “Die Bunten” posed in the area of the former extermination rooms. In March 2010, 13,000 people in a Facebook group called for the reopening of the Mauthausen concentration camp for "child molesters". In May 2014, the memorial was the target of a neo-Nazi smear campaign for the third time. This time a 20 meter long slogan was sprayed on a wall.
On the night of May 7th, 2015, the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II and two days before the celebrations of the 70th anniversary of the liberation, the official website of the Mauthausen Memorial was attacked and hacked. The content was replaced with child porn images and derogatory sayings. The Ministry of the Interior, which oversees the memorial, immediately had the website, which is managed by an external company, taken offline until it was restored to its original condition. Investigations were launched against the perpetrators.
In November 2018, a former concentration camp guard was indicted by the Berlin public prosecutor's office for being an accessory to murder in more than 36,000 counts. Accordingly, Hans H. is said to have worked in the Mauthausen concentration camp between the summer of 1944 and the spring of 1945. According to the public prosecutor's office, he wanted to promote or at least facilitate the thousands of killings of camp inmates by the main perpetrators through his security work. The background to the indictment is the case law of the Federal Court of Justice that a conviction for being an accessory to murder in a concentration camp does not necessarily require proof of participation in specific killings, but that mere involvement in the killing machine can also be sufficient.
On August 9, 2019, a list of the Spanish prisoners murdered in the Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp was published by the Spanish Ministry of Justice.
Even before charges could be brought against him, a former security guard died in May 2021 at the age of 95, who was accused of having shot 19 prisoners of war. After his death, the case was discontinued.
Dmitry Karbyshev was a Lieutenant General of Engineer Corps in the Soviet Army. During World War II he was sent to the front line to stop advancing German troops. In August 1941 Karbyshev participated in the fighting at the Dnieper River in Mogilev Region. Here was hit by an artillery barrage and suffered post- concussion syndrome. He was captured by the Nazi German forces while unconscious. He was held in several concentration camps including Hammelburg, Flossenburg, Majdanek, Auschwitz, Sachsenhausen and finally Mauthausen.
Nazi officials attempted to elicit his cooperation with tortures and continuous intimidation, but failed to achieve any collaboration. Despite his advanced age he became one of the most active leaders of the camp resistance movement in the Mauthausen Concentration Camp. Unfortunately underground movement was discovered. On February 17, 1945 Karbyshev along with other 500 Soviet soldiers were kicked out on the street from their barracks. Here they were doused with cold water and left over night. The next morning they were found frozen. Karbyshev was awarded the title of the Hero of the Soviet Union on August 16, 1946. This incident became one of the most famous examples of violence in this concentration camp. Today his memory is commemorated in Mauthausen with a statue on the open courtyard.
Construction of the camp
The task of the first prisoners was to build the first four barracks and to work in the quarry. A few months later the camp already had 14 barracks and most of the prisoners were employed in the quarry.
The camp was later divided into three parts: Camps I, II and III:
Camp I was built first. These first 20 barracks were built between 1938 and 1940. Camp II consisted of barracks 21 to 24 and was built in 1941, and Camp III consisted of six barracks and was built in the spring of 1944.
There was also the deliberately misleadingly called sick camp, which was located south of Camp I. This sick camp was initially also called the "Russian camp" because it was actually built in October 1941 for Soviet prisoners of war. This part of the camp consisted of ten barracks. On March 14, 1943, 684 sick people were transferred from the special infirmary to the "Russian camp", which now served as a death asylum and was regularly prepared by selections or "actions" to take in further emaciated and sick prisoners. In the spring of 1944, 9,000 prisoners were counted in the main camp, almost half of whom were vegetating in the medical camp without being cared for. At the end of January 1945, most of the prisoners who had been “evacuated” from the Auschwitz concentration camp, and in the course of February from Gross-Rosen and Sachsenhausen, came to the medical camp. The arrival of the evacuated prisoners from the Vienna camps and the Lower Danube in April made the situation even worse.
In addition to the sick camp, there was also the tent camp, which was located north of Camp I. It consisted of six large and eight small military tents, was occupied in December 1944 and belonged to the main camp until April 8, 1945.
There was also a detention building that was built between 1939 and 1940 and contained 33 cells of 5.4 m² each. Then there was the so-called infirmary, a stone building in Camp II that was not completed, but the left half of which could be occupied in 1944. A third crematorium oven was put into operation there in April 1945.
Finally, there were the laundry and kitchen barracks, which were built between 1938 and 1941. A normal barracks in the camp was 52.61 meters long and 8.22 meters wide. It was also divided into two parts: Room "A" on the left and Room "B" on the right. Each parlor consisted of two rooms, the living room and a bedroom. However, most of the prisoners were only allowed to stay in the sleeping room, since the living room was also reserved for the prisoner functionaries as a sleeping room.
The main camp was secured by a 2.5 meter high enclosing wall with a length of 1668 meters. The wall was crowned by a 380 volt electrically charged fence. The exception was the northern part of camp I, where the rear of barracks 5, 10 and 15 was only an electric fence. The infirmary was secured by a double barbed wire fence that was charged with high-voltage electricity. The total area of camps I, II and III, including the roll call area, was about 25,000 m², the sick camp was about 15,000 m² and the tent camp was 16,000 m².
atrocities of the SS
Everyday life in the camp was designed to "destroy" the prisoner, rob him of his dignity and torment him as much as possible. The prisoners had to obey every order, and the SS men had an inexhaustible imagination when it came to “destroying” and humiliating the prisoners. The prisoners had to For example, standing at attention for hours or jumping out of windows 10 to 20 times during the night and rolling in the dirt and then washing their clothes.
During the Mauthausen typhoid epidemics of 1940-1941, vexatious lice checks were carried out every evening. Often a prisoner was simply beaten to death or drowned if he had lice. The inscription on the posters posted in the Mauthausen barracks (a large black louse on a yellow background) could hardly have been more drastic: A louse – your death.
One of the particularly serious atrocities was the so-called “Death Stairs”, a stone stairway that connected the “Wiener Graben” quarry with the actual Mauthausen concentration camp. Several times a day, those involved in the stone carrier commando dragged blocks of granite up the 186 steps of the stairway, 31 meters up. The "Death Staircase" was the site of numerous accidents and murders of prisoners, committed by kapos and the SS guards.
Inscription at the foot of the stairs of death:
"At the time of the concentration camp, its steps, which are uniform today and of normal height, were randomly arranged, unequally sized boulders of the most varied shapes. The boulders, which are often half a meter high, required a great deal of effort to climb. Among other things, the SS amused themselves by kicking and blowing butts in the last rows of a descending column, so that when they fell, they tumbled down the steps in a wild heap, dragging those in front of them with them. At the end of a working day, when the march to the camp began with a stone on their shoulders, the SS men who formed the end of the march spurred on stragglers with punches and kicks. Anyone who couldn't come along ended up on this death ladder."
The path from the top of the stairs of death up to the camp sometimes leads just past the slope of the quarry. A 50 meter high, almost vertical rock face was used by the SS to throw prisoners down, where their bodies were either crushed by impact with the rock or they drowned in the rainwater pond.
Inscription at the foot of the “Parachuting Wall”:
“Many hundreds of prisoners were thrown down this steep wall in the quarry. They crashed at the foot of the wall or drowned in the deep pools of water. Inmates who could no longer endure the torture often threw themselves down this wall. The SS dubbed these doomed men with gruesome jokes ‘parachutists’. The first group of Dutch Jews who came to Mauthausen in the summer of 1942 were thrown down this wall by the SS.”
Simon Wiesenthal reports:
“Jews in Mauthausen were rarely shot. The Wiener Graben was intended for them. On a single day, on March 31, 1943, 1,000 Dutch Jews were thrown down from a height of more than 50 meters before the eyes of Heinrich Himmler. The SS called them 'parachutists'. The brown folk enjoyed themselves!”
The daily routine of the camp was different from the daily routine of other concentration camps, which was mainly due to the fact that the SS group leader Theodor Eicke had his very special methods of running a camp - especially when it came to his list of punishments. These punishments accompanied the entire daily routine. Eicke had previously gained "experience" in the Dachau concentration camp. He also adopted the penal decrees issued in the Dachau concentration camp.
The official penal measures in the Mauthausen concentration camp were administrative penalties (food deprivation, detention), imprisonment, imprisonment in the dark and corporal punishment. The fines generally included penal labor under the supervision of an SS Unterfuhrer, a "ban on writing letters" or receiving letters, deprivation of food when working full-time and, in the worst case, induction into the concentration camp's penal company (until autumn 1943 and for almost all foreigners ), which was tantamount to a death sentence. The punishment company had to do the hardest work, e.g. B. carrying the heavy granite blocks up the so-called "death stairs". This was the name given to the stairs that led from the quarry up to the camp, although the condition did not correspond to that of a staircase, since they were very steep and the step spacing was very different. Today the 186 steps of the stairway are easier to climb as the stairway has been renovated. The arrest penalties were usually combined with beatings with a stick; the tightened arrest was carried out in the darkroom, without the possibility of lying down or sitting. The main form of corporal punishment was beating with a bullwhip. The number of hits was between 5 and 75. If there were more than 25 hits, the prisoner, regardless of nationality, had to count out loud in German, and if he miscounted or made a mistake, the prisoner started over. According to regulations, the criminal act should only take place in the presence of an SS doctor, which was never the case.
According to an instruction from Heinrich Himmler dated December 2,
1942, corporal punishment should only be used as a last resort. As a
result, corporal punishment always had to be reported to the
concentration camp inspector, which was often far too complicated for
the camp commander. From that date on, caning was used very rarely in
the camp. As a further disciplinary treatment, there was the so-called
goal or punishment. The prisoners affected had to stand near the camp
gate for hours, days and nights while passing SS men hit or kicked them
“for fun”. One of the worst abuses or punishments was the "hanging on
the pole", which was often committed in Mauthausen. The prisoner's hands
were tied behind his back with a rope about the thickness of a finger.
The victim was then hung from this rope on the crossbeam of a barracks
at a height of about 2 meters so that the body was floating freely in
the air. The entire body weight rested on the joints that were bent
backwards.” This torture caused severe stretching pains in the muscles,
clouding of consciousness and, after 30 minutes, loss of consciousness.
Until May 1940, the corpses of the Mauthausen prisoners were burned in the Steyr and Linz crematoria. Camp crematoria were set up in Mauthausen and Gusen from 1940, and later also in the Melk and Ebensee satellite camps. The Kori and J. A. Topf & Sons companies built a total of three furnace systems in the Mauthausen main camp, which were located in the basement area of the detention building and infirmary and ultimately consisted of three cremation furnaces of different designs. They were not in use at the same time, since the double-muffle incinerator (No. 3) was not put into operation until April 1945, when incinerator No. 2 had already been shut down due to a lack of fuel oil. Up to eight corpses were cremated in the furnaces at the same time, the ashes were mostly dumped over the embankment at the so-called "ash heap" or scattered on various construction sites.
Meals in Mauthausen:
"Morning: About 5 deciliters of extract soup with some fat or 5 deciliters of mostly unsweetened black substitute coffee. Midday: 7 to 10 decilitres of swede stew, which consisted of about 200 g of grated fodder turnips, 50 g of potatoes, 20 g of fat, 20 g of meat, some flour or foodstuff and water. In the evening: 300 to 400 g brown bread and 25 g sausage or less often 25 g margarine. On Saturday evening or Sunday there was a tablespoon of jam and a tablespoon of curd cheese instead of the sausage.”
– Hans Marsalek
The energy content of the food was nowhere near sufficient for the heavy work that the prisoners had to do. The situation was better in some satellite camps. Nevertheless, most of the prisoners were undernourished. From 1942, sick people received only half the ration of workers.
“Out of hunger, in the Revier, i. H. in the camp hospital 'corpses grown'. If a prisoner died in the hard-to-reach upper bunks, the neighbors would hide his death and “catch up” for him. They might even sleep with the corpse all night. My neighbor on the 20th block cultivated a corpse for 2 days.”
– Milos Vitek: former Mauthausen prisoner (AMM V/3/1)
The workload was always 11 hours. An exception to this were the
stonemason apprentices who worked 9 hours. The prisoners were woken at
4:45 a.m. in summer and at 5:15 a.m. in winter. The same procedure then
took place every morning: the prisoners had to get up immediately and
make their beds perfectly, then quickly get dressed and queue for the
toilets and bath (8 toilets and 5 minutes for 250 to 600 prisoners),
then quickly the Organize the locker and then queue again - this time
for the food. Then the procession for roll call took place in front of
the barracks. This was always the same: the prisoners, arranged in rows
of 20 barracks on the right and left, waited on the roll call area for
the SS men to appear. After a report and a "Caps off, caps on" the roll
call was over and the camp elder called out: "Form a work detail". After
a short time, the columns could then march to their respective
workplaces. Until the spring of 1944 there were three roll calls a day,
in the morning, in the afternoon and one last time in the evening. After
that there were only two, morning and evening. The inmates who worked in
the workshops and inside the main camp still had to report for roll call
at noon, except for the service personnel who worked in the SS quarters
and infirmaries. In the evening, after the prisoners returned from work,
from 6:00 p.m. or 7:00 p.m., depending on the time of year, the evening
roll call took place. This roll call was always carried out precisely,
since the time required for it was deducted from the prisoners' free
time. If things went well, the roll call lasted only 30 minutes,
sometimes an hour or two and in special cases, such as e.g. B. an
execution or escape, up to three hours. After roll call, the food was
distributed. Theoretically, the prisoners were free until 8:45 p.m., but
that hardly ever happened because you had to queue for a long time for
the toilets and washrooms. By 8:45 p.m., all the prisoners had to be in
their respective barracks, and from 9:00 p.m. it was bed rest. However,
lice, clothing or locker checks were very often ordered in the evenings
in order to harass the prisoners and shorten their nights' sleep. As a
result, the prisoners were often only able to sleep for six hours.
The prisoners were free on Sunday afternoon. They used their free time to straighten the prisoners' clothes, do mending work, darn socks (if they had any, most of the prisoners only had footcloths), cut their hair and shave. There were seldom performances by the inmate band or boxing or soccer tournaments on Sundays. However, few inmates had the strength to participate. From 1943 there were also football teams from the individual ethnic groups in Mauthausen.
Murders of prisoners by means of poisonous gases were committed
between 1941 and 1944 in Hartheim, between 1941 and 1942 with a gas van
between Mauthausen and Gusen and from 1942 to 1945 in a gas chamber on
the site itself.
The execution sites set up in the Mauthausen concentration camp (gallows, shooting sites, gas chambers), crematoria and brothels were designated as special buildings. In official parlance, the gas chamber was camouflaged as a "disinfection facility", and transports to the Hartheim gassing facility were labeled "Dachau sanatorium", "Ybbs an der Donau sanatorium and nursing home", "rest home", "rest camp" and "Bad Ischl" veiled.
The gas chamber was set up in the immediate vicinity of the crematorium in the fall of 1941 in the basement of the shell of the infirmary. In a small adjoining room was the device with which the Zyklon B gas was fed into the chamber. The gassings were mainly conducted by the commando leader of the crematorium, SS Hauptscharführer Martin Roth, but other SS leaders such as the garrison doctor Eduard Krebsbach also led such murders and operated the gas filling device. Between 30 and 80 people were murdered in the gas chambers, in some cases up to 100 people. Researchers disagree on the completion and beginning of the gassings, but no SS leader in the post-war trials denied the existence of a gas chamber. When questioned on May 24, 1945, the camp commander Franz Ziereis stated:
"In the Mauthausen camp, by order of the SS garrison doctor, Dr. Krebsbach built a gassing facility disguised as a bathroom. In this camouflaged room, prisoners were gassed with Zyklon B..."
The dates of completion and commissioning are either March or May 1942. The gas chamber was initially used almost exclusively for officially ordered executions and only in the final phase of the war for the murder of the sick or those unfit for work. The exact number of victims could not be ascertained, but based on the available documents and witness statements, a minimum number of 3,455 was named who were murdered in the Mauthausen gas chamber. In April 1945, 1,200 to 1,400 people were murdered in the Mauthausen gas chambers. The last gassing in a Nazi concentration camp took place on April 28, 1945 in the Mauthausen gas chamber.
The structures of the gas chamber have largely been preserved, but today's visitor will not find the original condition. Before the camp was liberated, the SS had the technical equipment of the gas chamber, such as doors, exhaust air fans and gas filling nozzles, dismantled and stored on the premises. They were found there by the US Army, described and illustrated in the "Taylor Report", but were lost except for the fan. When the memorial was set up in 1948/1949, the gas chamber was reconstructed with different doors and the wall of the adjacent gas cell was rebuilt. The surviving inmates were concerned with illustration and a dignified memorial, not with scientific documentation. Revisionists took advantage of this deficiency, denying the previous existence of a gas chamber or speaking of a "dummy". However, the archaeological finds found in the building in 2009 substantiate the earlier statements about the gas chamber.
In Mauthausen there was a gassing wagon that was manufactured in 1941 by the camp locksmith. According to witness statements, it was used from the fall of 1941 to the summer or fall of 1942. The vehicle drove the approximately five-kilometer route to the Gusen subcamp, during which prisoners who were unable to work or sick and weak were murdered. According to witness statements, there were up to 40 trips, which means a number of victims of at least 900 prisoners.
Gas chamber in Hartheim Castle
After the end of Action T4 in August 1941, the existing facilities in Schloss Hartheim and the associated personnel were used seamlessly to murder and cremate prisoners classified as unable to work for Action 14f13, which began in April 1941. Up until the last transport of prisoners on December 11, 1944, an estimated 12,000 prisoners from Mauthausen, Gusen and other concentration camps were killed there.
The concentration camp had over 40 satellite camps, the largest being
in Gusen, Ebensee and Melk. Many of the prisoners in the satellite camps
had to work for the armaments industry, e.g. B. in the construction of
aircraft parts, guns, tanks or in the construction of underground tunnel
systems for armaments production. A large part of the satellite camps
were located in Upper Austria and near Vienna. Shortly before the end of
the war, more than three quarters of the prisoners in the Mauthausen
camp system were imprisoned in the satellite camps. Of the at least
90,000 victims of the Mauthausen camp system, around a third probably
died in the main camp in Mauthausen, a third in Gusen and a third in the
other satellite camps.
Gusen I, II and III
The construction of the Gusen I subcamp began in 1939, at that time still under the name KL Mauthausen/Gusen accommodation. Gusen was 4.5 kilometers west of Mauthausen. The camp was initially set up by two work details, consisting of 400 Austrian and German prisoners, who had to march from the Mauthausen concentration camp to Gusen every morning. The construction of this part of the Gusen concentration camp double camp system Mauthausen/Gusen became necessary because the daily work done by concentration camp prisoners in Gusen already in 1939 clearly exceeded the daily work done by prisoners in the DEST operation Wiener Graben. In March 1940 the first barracks were ready and immediately occupied by the members of the two work details. But as early as May 24 of the same year, 200 prisoners were transferred back to the Mauthausen concentration camp as “sick”. And so the next day the remaining prisoners were registered as the first Gusen prisoners. However, 1082 Poles arrived from the Dachau concentration camp on the same day. In Gusen, the prisoners were told that they would now be "retrained to become useful people in the Third Reich". In the months that followed, another 4,000 Polish intellectuals came to Gusen for "retraining".
The Gusen I concentration camp consisted of 34 barracks, of which 24 were prisoner barracks, two workshop and storage barracks and six sick barracks, which were followed by four more in the winter of 1943/44. There were also two stone buildings. In the winter of 1940/41, a permanent crematorium was built in Gusen I, in which the corpses of prisoners were burned from January 29, 1941. The prisoners of KL Gusen I had to work, among other things, in the Gusen quarries, in tunnel construction and in the arms industry (Hirtenberger Patronenfabrik), where, for example, they made parts for carbines, submachine guns or Daimler-Benz aircraft engines for the DEST cooperation partner Steyr-Daimler-Puch manufacture AG. The code name for this production was z. B. "Georgen Mill".
On March 9, 1944, the Gusen II camp was opened. It was built for up to 16,000 inmates who had to work in tunnel expansion for the top-secret Luftwaffe project “B8 Bergkristall” for the assembly line production of Messerschmitt Me 262 jet fighters. Other cover names for the top secret production in Gusen II were "Esche II" or "Linz 2".
About ten months later, in December 1944, Gusen III was opened for another 262 prisoners. The prisoners of Gusen III had to work on the construction of the Lungitz bakery and in a spare parts store for the Messerschmitt GmbH manufacturing plants in St. Georgen and Gusen.
Since the maxim of the Gusen I, II and III concentration camps was "extermination through work", all prisoners there who were sick or weak were quickly murdered or killed. A total of 67,677 prisoners were imprisoned in the Gusen concentration camps, of whom 31,535 were officially killed. If you add to this number z. For example, if you add the countless prisoners who were not even registered in Gusen, who were murdered in the Hartheim Nazi killing center or transferred to the "Mauthausen medical camp" to die, or who died after the liberation, 44,602 victims can be attributed to the Gusen concentration camps. The Gusen camps were liberated by the US Army on May 5, 1945.
Part of the quarrying operations were continued into the 1950s by the Soviet state company Granitwerke Gusen. The Gusen Memorial was inaugurated in 1965 and the Gusen Visitor Center was added in 2004. Since 2007, the Gusen Audio Trail has also been leading through the areas of the former Gusen I and Gusen II concentration camps.
The Melk satellite camp in the Birago barracks was opened on April
21, 1944 for 500 prisoners and existed for exactly one year. It was
housed in the buildings of the pioneer barracks above the village and
had its own crematorium. Like the prisoners in the Ebensee subcamp, the
prisoners in Melk, who included many children and young people, had to
drive tunnels into the mountain. The Melk subcamp ran under the code
name "Quarz" because most of the tunnels were driven through quartz
rock. The prisoners had to work in three shifts without safety
precautions and with the tunnels being insufficiently secured. As a
result, there were often fatalities, and transports from Mauthausen
regularly had to bring “prisoner supplies”. In the winter of 1944/45,
six tunnels were completed, all for Steyr Daimler Puch AG, which had
ball bearings produced there.
During the entire existence of the concentration camp, 5000 prisoners lost their lives. As in other camps, many of them were either killed with heart injections, "shot while trying to escape" or gassed in Hartheim Castle. As in the other camps, many of them were also murdered by their guards. The camp was cleared in mid-April 1945 as Allied troops were approaching. The children and young people came to Mauthausen, the adults to Ebensee.
The concentration camp subcamp was founded on August 2, 1943 under the name "KL Wiener Neudorf". It was mostly in what is now the municipal area of Guntramsdorf. The entire camp consisted of about 80 wooden barracks (including foreign and forced labor camps), 34 of which were buildings on the actual concentration camp site, which was surrounded by an electrically charged fence.
With additional workers, the construction and production of the aircraft engine works should be accelerated. Prisoners from the Mauthausen concentration camp who had experience in metal processing and construction work were the most requested.
Between 1943 and 1945, up to 3,170 concentration camp prisoners (peak in September 1944) were imprisoned in the aircraft engine works, the companies Steyr-Daimler-Puch AG, Rella & Co., Hofman and Maculan, Himmelstoss and Sittner, Ing. Czernilowski and Saurerwerke Zehethofer as well as used as forced laborers in small businesses and in agriculture in the municipalities of Guntramsdorf, Wiener Neudorf, Laxenburg, Achau and Vienna.
Other prisoners are listed under the category "Death Victims in
Mauthausen Concentration Camp".
Heinz Apenzeller, born 1918; † 2007, until recently active on the board of the Austrian camp community Mauthausen (ÖLM).
Francisco Aura Boronat, born 1918; † 2018, Catalan anti-fascist and CNT member.
Yehuda Bacon, Israeli artist
Otakar Batlička, Czech radio amateur, globetrotter, writer and resistance fighter
Bruno Baum, German KPD and SED functionary
August Baumgarte, German communist and chairman of the VVN Lower Saxony
Józef Bednorz, Polish politician and journalist
Georg Benjamin, German physician and resistance fighter
Richard Bernaschek, resistance fighter and leader of the Schutzbund
Friedrich August Bockius, German lawyer, politician of the German Center Party and member of the Reichstag
Francisco Boix, Spanish republican and photographer, witness at the Nuremberg trials, hid and thereby saved many images of camp life
Hanuš Bonn, Czech poet, literary critic and translator
Jan Buzek, Polish politician
Lucien Bunel, known as Père Jacques de Jésus, French Father (Gusen I)
Adolf Burger, Slovak printer, author and journalist
Edmund Bursche, Polish Protestant theologian, church historian and pastor (Gusen I)
Paul Le Caër, French dentist and resistance fighter
Marcel Callo, Catholic youth worker from France, beatified in 1987 (Gusen II)
Oscar Caminneci, Italian-German equestrian athlete and author
Roberto Castellani, former President of ANED Prato (National Association of Former Political Deportees)
Jean Cayrol, French poet, essayist and novelist (Gusen I)
Josef Cebula, Polish priest, martyr
Józef Cyrankiewicz, later Prime Minister of Poland
Józef Czempiel, Polish Catholic priest and martyr, beatified
Antoni Czortek, Polish boxer
Franz Dahlem, German politician
Theodor Decker, German trade unionist
Melvine German, see Anna Friessnegg - Ludwig Friessnegg - Anna Manzer - Edi Stecher
Stanisław Dobosiewicz, Polish writer (Gusen I)
Joseph E. Drexel, German publisher
Heinrich Dürmayer, Chairman of the International Committee
Władysław Dworaczek, Polish educator
Witold Dzierżykraj-Morawski, a colonel in the Polish Army, posthumously promoted to the rank of general
Peter Edel, German graphic artist and writer
Edith Eger, Hungarian-American psychotherapist and writer
Jenő Elephant, Transylvanian painter of the classic modern era
Adam Englert, master tailor (ladies tailor) from Sommerau (Eschau). Prisoner number 725. Born on December 16, 1876 in Sommerau, murdered on September 8, 1941. A plaque in the Sommerau cemetery commemorates him.
Hanuš Fantl, Czech poet
Adolf Fierla, Polish poet and writer
Leopold Figl, later Austrian Chancellor and ÖVP co-founder
Stefan Filipkiewicz, Polish painter (Gusen I)
Noach Flug, Polish economist and diplomat
Roman Frister, Polish journalist
Manuel Garcia-Barrado, Spanish Republican, Director of the Mauthausen Memorial
Frederick Geussenhainer, physician, German resistance fighter of the Hamburg White Rose
Edward Godlewski, Colonel in the Polish Armed Forces and one of the leaders of the Polish Home Army
Gusztáv Gratz, Hungarian publicist, journalist, politician, historian, economist
Jose Carlos Gray Key or Carlos Greykey, Afro-European and anti-fascist resistance fighter from Spain (see below)
Johann Gruber, Austrian resistance fighter (Gusen I)
Stanisław Grzesiuk, Polish poet and singer, author of Five Years Concentration Camp (Gusen)
Adam Grzybowski, Polish political prisoner
Israel Gutman, Polish historian
Alfred Haag, German KPD MP
Hans von Hammerstein-Equord, Austrian writer and politician
Rudolf Hartmann, German writer and communist politician
Sebastian Haselsberger, Austrian Catholic priest, shot "while trying to escape" on April 4, 1944
Wilhelm Heckmann, German concert and entertainment musician
Otto Heller, Austrian KPÖ theorist, writer, journalist and resistance fighter
Otto Hirsch, German lawyer and politician
Felix Hurdes, Austrian lawyer, politician and co-founder of the ÖVP
Harry Hüttel, resistance fighter, communist and political leader of the Red Aid Berlin Prenzlauer Berg
Iakovos Kambanellis, Greek writer (wrote a novel about Mauthausen as well as the lyrics for the Mauthausen songs by Mikis Theodorakis)
Dmitri Mikhailovich Karbyshev, Lieutenant General of the Red Army
Ivan Katz, German politician
Jerzy Kaźmirkiewicz, Polish scientist
Wilhelm Kling, German politician
Heinrich Kodré, Austrian officer and resistance fighter
Gottfried Könzgen, German workers' secretary of the KAB
August Kraft, Country Director of Jehovah's Witnesses in Austria
Lovro Kuhar, stage name Prežihov Voranc, Slovenian writer and politician
Erich Kuttner, Austrian resistance fighter
Włodzimierz Laskowski, Polish Catholic priest and martyr, beatified (Gusen)
Jan Łęga, Polish politician and cultural figure
Hermann Lein, Austrian resistance fighter
Bruno Max Leuschner, German trade union leader
Gábor Ligeti, brother of György Ligeti
Hans Maršálek, Austrian resistance fighter and camp clerk
Heinrich Maier, Austrian Roman Catholic priest, educator, philosopher and resistance fighter
Luigi Massignan, Italian psychiatrist
Franz Josef Messner, Austrian resistance fighter
Curt Mezger, German-Jewish entrepreneur and head of the Milbertshofen Jewish camp in Munich.
Conny Hannes Meyer (doubtful), Austrian writer and director
Walter Munke, German writer, journalist and resistance fighter
Antonín Novotný, Czech communist, President of Czechoslovakia from 1957 to 1968
Miklós Nyiszli, Romanian-Hungarian physician and author
Leopold Obermayer, Swiss lawyer
Jan Stanisław Olbrycht, Polish physician and university lecturer
David Olère, Polish artist
Wiktor Ormicki, Polish geographer and university professor (Gusen I)
Rajmund Pajer, Slovenian-Italian youth
František Pecháček, Czechoslovakian gymnast
Peter van Pels, known as Anne Frank's roommate
Otto Peltzer, German journalist, athlete and coach
Mario Piccioli, President of ANED (National Association of Former Political Deportees to Nazi Concentration Camps), Florence
Karol Piegza, Polish writer, teacher and folklorist
Hans Pollnow, German psychiatrist
Martin Pötzinger, German Jehovah's Witness, later a member of the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses
Kazimierz Prószyński, Polish photographer and inventor of one of the first film cameras
Gustaw Przeczek, Polish writer and teacher
Heinrich Rau, German politician
Jacques Renouvin, French resistance fighter
Lionel Romney, African from Sint Maarten as of June 25
Kazimierz Rusinek, Polish Minister of Labor and Social Affairs 1945–1952
Hans Schiftan, German resistance fighter
Hans Seigewasser, German politician
Ota Šik, Czech-Swiss painter and economist
Henryk Sławik, Polish politician, diplomat and social worker who saved more than 5000 Jews during the war (Gusen I)
Ludwig Soswinski, Austrian lawyer, communist
Stanisław Staszewski, Polish poet and writer, father of musician Kazik Staszewski
Rudi Steffens, German Communist (KPD) and KJVD official
Gustav Steinbrecher, Brunswick SPD politician
Josef Streit, German politician
Mike Staner, Polish writer
Karol Śliwka, Polish politician
Italo Tibaldi, Italian writer and historian
Grzegorz Timofiejew, Polish poet (Gusen I)
Josef Teufl, state chairman of the illegal KPÖ Upper Austria
Eduard Urx, editor of Rudé právo
Andrzej Wantuła, Polish Lutheran theologian and Bishop of the Evangelical-Augsburg Church in Poland (Gusen I)
Heinrich Weber (1885–1944), German trade unionist
Lois Weinberger, protagonist of the democratic Catholic resistance, later federal minister, vice mayor of Vienna and city councillor; Co-founder of the ÖVP, the ÖAAB and the ÖGB
Edgar Weil, German dramaturge, husband of the writer Grete Weil
Johann Baptist Welsch, German homosexual drag artist from Cologne
Simon Wiesenthal, Austrian architect, publicist and writer
Otto Wiesner, German writer
Othmar Wundsam, Wehrmacht soldier, Austrian resistance fighter ("enemy favoring" of the parachute agent Josef Zettler)
Leon Zelman, Polish-Austrian publicist
On March 6, 2017, a study by B. Fuchslehner et al. presented as a preliminary result identifying 157 prisoners (including 3 women) of African descent. There are only photos of 3 people, including Jose Carlos Gray Key from Barcelona (parents came from Equatorial Guinea), who fought for the Republic in the Spanish Civil War and was then a member of the French Resistance. From 1942 in the Mauthausen concentration camp, he was assigned to work as a servant to the camp commander and survived.