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Mauthausen Concentration Camp Or Mauthausen Konzentrationslager

Updated on October 18, 2009
Mauthausen Concentration Camp Or Mauthausen Konzentrationslager - Barracks
Mauthausen Concentration Camp Or Mauthausen Konzentrationslager - Barracks

Mauthausen Concentration Camp Or Mauthausen Konzentrationslager - Introduction

A visit to Mauthausen Concentration Camp or Mauthausen Konzentrationslager is one of the most sobering experiences that you can have. It is preserved in exactly the same order as the day it was liberated. Mauthausen Concentration Camp or Mauthausen Konzentrationslager is a shocking reminder of the madness of Nazi policy and their inhumane treatment of Jewish people and many others that suffered under their tyranny.

Construction of the “Mothercamp” of Austria began on 8th August, 1938. It networked through 49 subcamps.

Mauthausen Concentration Camp Or Mauthausen Konzentrationslager - Inside Barracks
Mauthausen Concentration Camp Or Mauthausen Konzentrationslager - Inside Barracks

Mauthausen Concentration Camp – Background

Mauthausen Concentration Camp or Mauthausen Konzentrationslager in German was established as a product of Nazi Policy. In the second World War, Adolf Hitler committed genocide on a large scale. He wanted to systematically wipe out the Jewish race as well as any homosexuals and those with differing political and religious beliefs to his. Concentration Camps like Mauthausen Concentration Camp or Mauthausen Konzentrationslager were set up to hold these people once his troops identified them, rounded them up and imprisoned them.

As with all concentration camps, on arrival prisoners were stripped not only of their clothing but of their identity.  After de-licing and having their body hair removed, prisoners names would be eradicated from records and replaced by their serial number for identification.

To distinguish different prisoner categories colored shapes were sewn onto the left breast of their prison uniforms : a yellow star to denote a Jew ; a red triangle for a political prisoner ; a green triangle for a criminal.  A black letter within the triangle would denote nationality.

On Feb 16, 1945, 200 Russian POW’s under the command of Gen Karbyshev were forced to stand to attention all night in the falling snow whilst being hosed with cold water - none survived the night.

Mauthausen Concentration Camp Or Mauthausen Konzentrationslager - Entrance Gates
Mauthausen Concentration Camp Or Mauthausen Konzentrationslager - Entrance Gates

Mauthausen Concentration Camp – Purpose

Mauthausen Concentration Camp or Mauthausen Konzentrationslager was set up as a quarry so that there was stone to build Nazi building projects. Mauthausen Concentration Camp was also a labour camp for Dachau, but overnight turned into a death camp, all without the knowledge of the residents of Mauthausen knowing, who had been sworn to secrecy or faced death themselves.

Over 200,000 prisoners came through here, transported by train and truck through the countryside, past the Danube and into the locked Camp. Mauthausen Concentration Camp or Mauthausen Konzentrationslager had many prisoners of war and political prisoners from all over Europe, from Spain to Russia, from Anti-Fascist activists to Communists and from homosexuals to Austrian Jews.

Execution was mainly by gas chamber, cremation or (more mercifully) a bullet in the neck.

The gas chambers were disguised as shower blocks into which “Cyclon B” poison was piped via the shower heads. Survivors forced to clear the bodies reported ‘human pyramids’ as people fought to get on top of each other to escape the lethal fumes.

The Crematorium operated three furnaces, night and day.

Mauthausen Concentration Camp Or Mauthausen Konzentrationslager – Stairs of Death

Hard / physical labour took place around the Wiener Graben Quarry and it’s 186 “Steps of Death”. Hour by hour, day by day 2,000 inmates would carry sacks full of stones from the bottom to the top like a human column of ants. Thousands died, worn-out from physical exhaustion and malnutrition, or crushed by falling rocks - the result of one slip further up the line or a summary execution by SS (Schutz-Staffel) guards practising ‘moving target’ practice.

Quarries were used for mass burials and the Tod Treppen (Death Stairs) Nazi soldiers exercised complete control and tortured prisoners at will.

Mauthausen Concentration Camp Or Mauthausen Konzentrationslager – Stairs of Death

Gas Chamber at Mauthausen Concentration Camp Or Mauthausen Konzentrationslager
Gas Chamber at Mauthausen Concentration Camp Or Mauthausen Konzentrationslager

Mauthausen Concentration Camp Or Mauthausen Konzentrationslager – What else will you see

At Mauthausen Concentration Camp or Mauthausen Konzentrationslager as well as the Stairs, Gas Chambers, housing blocks and detention yards are still evident, and a pictorial museum near the film hall tells the story along with a bookshop for further information and texts. It is indeed eerie to walk through and see incinerators and gas chambers and stand in the same place that genocide has happened. There are pictures of the departed on the walls and it is impossible not to fell outraged and angry about the waste of human life.

Memorials to all nationalities around the grounds and to the liberating forces who found the Camp

By 1945 there were never less than 8,000 registered inmates in the sick quarters alone, racked up five to a bed.

When the camp was liberated on 5th May, 1945, of 195,000 registered inmates, only 81,000 had survived - half starved and emaciated beyond recognition in many cases.

Mauthausen Concentration Camp Or Mauthausen Konzentrationslager - Persecuted Inmates
Mauthausen Concentration Camp Or Mauthausen Konzentrationslager - Persecuted Inmates

Mauthausen Concentration Camp – A Memoriam to Nazi Madness

Take time to remember the 6 million Jews and those who lost their lives in the holocaust and fighting in WWII and reflect on what we can do to stop the racism and genocide that still exists in the World

The Camp is one of the best preserved in Europe and is operated by volunteers as a memorial to those who lost their lives during this time. In fact while you are visiting you might see Austrian school children there learning about their history. It is part of their curriculum. And for me after my first visit I felt shock and anger at the scale of human devastation, also a sense of appreciation that the modern states of Germany and Austria have preserved these Camps like Mauthausen Concentration Camp or Mauthausen Konzentrationslager as a reminder of their dark past and to educate all visitors that this will never happen again.

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Mauthausen Concentration Camp Or Mauthausen Konzentrationslager – Practical Information

If you are doing a self drive holiday in Austria Mauthausen Concentration Camp or Mauthausen Konzentrationslager is just off the A1 or E60 near Linz. A visit can be done from Linz or Salzberg as a day trip, there are not many places to stay or other places of interest in the area. There are no food or drink facilities at the Camp but and good little bookshop, so bring some food and drink with you. The onsite museum is excellent with very confronting displays (especially the medical experiments – the Nazis were thorough in keeping records) and there is a 45 minute documentary movie that is dated but well worth seeing – there is some original footage of the liberation of Mauthausen Concentration Camp or Mauthausen Konzentrationslager that will make your hair stand on end. It is a horrifying but worthwhile experience.

My name is Robee Kann, for four years I was a tour guide throughout Europe. I loved my job and I would love to hear from you. You are most welcome to message me to say hello or request a hub about a European subject. Please look at my other hubs and leave a comment for me.

Comments On Mauthausen Concentration Camp Or Mauthausen Konzentrationslager

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    • profile image

      MICHAEL BARANEK 

      6 years ago

      as a 14year old boy i arriwed from the death march from Aushwits to Mauthausen i was sent to camp 3 that's where the memorial is now that place was hell on earth the beatings the starvation & the lice that ate us up is unbeliveable from there we were sent to Gunskirchen where people died like flies from starvation . its unbelivable how we came out from there , we were liberated on May4th 1945 by the US 71st division

    • Robee Kann profile imageAUTHOR

      Robee Kann 

      7 years ago

      You are right Alyssa there are not enough bunks like there used to be, there are also no Nazi guards, no diseases any more, no guards dogs, no starvation, no beatings, no torture, no death, no people poisoned, incinerated, deprived or any other of countless atrocities that took place here. Apart from these things and some others living conditions weren't that bad.

    • profile image

      Alyssa 

      8 years ago

      i just traveled through europe last month and went to mauthausen, it actually isn't preserved as well as it should be. theres only about 6 bunks to a room when really they put as many as they could fit in there. and they had at least 8 people to a bunk. if you're not educated about the camp and go into the barrack, the living conditions don't seem that bad

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