Posted by: Turkadactyl | November 30, 2008

Austria- The Visible Part (Photo Update January 13)

I am very thankful to have visited the Mauthausen Memorial.  The only unfortunate part of the day is I ran out of time and that is with half of the memorial closed to renovations and many displays only in German.  I had to take the train from Vienna to Mauthausen, which ate up a large portion of the day.  I am thankful to Cecilia who gave me a ride from the post office to the memorial.  I was asking for directions and she said she can give me a ride.  Cecelia told me on route to the memorial that the people of Mauthausen are still judged for the atrocities that happened at the camp over sixty years ago.  Travellers try to avoid the town when visiting the memorial.  Cecelia also shared about her experience in Israel that she was strongly encouraged to not disclose that she is from Mauthausen as there are still many open wounds with the Jews and the Nazi concentration camps of WWII.

The camp at Mauthausen was designated as a Camp III, or a death camp.  From it’s opening to liberation more than 200,000 people passed through Mauthausen and its satellite camps as inmates and saw over 100,000 die as result of their internment.  Inmates were worked hard to the point of exhaustion.  The main cause of exhaustion was the nearby rock quarry, whose rocks were used for the war effort.  The quarry had a 186 staircase built to ascend its 70 metre cliffs.  The stairs were known as the Stairs of Death.  Just at the top of the stairs the rock face was known as the Parachute Jump.

Prisoners would carry the rocks up the stairs where they would then be loaded onto transport.  The SS, if they wanted some amusement, would sometimes throw the rocks back to the bottom of of the quarry.  Other times the SS would push the prisoners off the Parachute Jump.  Prisoners would often work long hours in only thin clothing, even in the winter.  They had no socks and often had to wear sandals, which are not ideal for labour.  186 stairs over and over and over.  All this on roughly 1250 calories from food.  They were grossly malnourished.  Some of the prisoners were chosen for diet experiments from the SS doctors.  One such diet consisted of purely grains to see what the effects of such a diet would have on the body.

The day was cold and windy.  It matched the mood of the camp.  It was tough walking around a place that was intended for the degradation, internment and humiliation of other human beings.  Yet it is a story that has to be told and not forgotten.  There are still ovens that were used for cremations.  There is a gas chamber used to dispose of prisoners.  The toughest room to stand in was the dissection room.  Standing in the middle of the small room is the original table used by the sadistic doctors who thought what they were doing was for the benefit of mankind.

Mauthausen was primarily used to house male detainees.  There were, however, some women sent there.  The camp had a hierarchy, even among the prisoners.  The SS allowed some of the prisoners more luxuries than others.  Those prisoners with more freedom had the option of visiting the camp prostitutes, women prisoners who were forced into sex slavery.  If the woman contracted an STD she was expectantly exterminated.  If she became pregnant she was forced to have an abortion, which she most likely not to survive.

Prisoners were often required to stand outside for hours.  No sitting, just looking straight ahead at attention.  Many died to this due to weather and exhaustion.  Of course the SS would pick cold, windy, humid or rainy days, the extreme weather conditions, to practice these so called roll calls.  If it pleased them and they wanted to further humiliate the prisoners roll call was performed in the nude.

I purchased a book The Visible Part, which is a pictorial essay of Mauthausen Camp during its operation.  If you are interested in viewing it please let me know.  To visit the Mauthausen Memorial on the internet please click here.  More info can be read at wikipedia.

The outer wall and entrance to the garage yard.

The outer wall and entrance to the garage yard.

 

The garage yard.

The garage yard.

 

The garage yard from the other side.

The garage yard from the other side.

mauthausen08-7

mauthausen08-8

mauthausen08-9

From atop the Parachute Jump at the Mauthausen Quarry.

From atop the Parachute Jump at the Mauthausen Quarry.

 

Quarry

Quarry

The bottom of the Parachute Jump.

The bottom of the Parachute Jump.

The Stairs of Death to the left and the Parachute Jump to the right.

The Stairs of Death to the left and the Parachute Jump to the right.

The Stairs of Death

The Stairs of Death

The Stiars of Death and the Parachute Jump from atop the quarry.

The Stairs of Death and the Parachute Jump from atop the quarry.

 

The front gate to the Mauthausen camp.

The front gate to the Mauthausen camp.

The Iron Chain was used to fasten the front gate when it was open.  It was used to hang prisoners and suffocate them to death.

The Iron Chain was used to fasten the front gate when it was open. It was used to hang prisoners and suffocate them to death.

The Wailing Wall.  New prisoners were ordered to stand against this wall for hours.  The prisoners had no idea how long they would have to stand for.

The Wailing Wall. New prisoners were ordered to stand against this wall for hours. The prisoners had no idea how long they would have to stand for.

 

Roll call ground with the laundry facility, kitchen barrack and camp prison buildings to the right.

Roll call ground with the laundry facility, kitchen barrack and camp prison buildings to the right.

 

Gas Chamber

Gas Chamber

 

The Iron Girder was used as a gallow.

The Iron Girder was used as a gallow.

 

Dissecting table

Dissecting table

 

Crematory oven

Crematory oven

Inside the youth barracks.

Inside the youth barracks.


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