Geoff Walden

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Mauthausen Concentration Camp

   Following the Anschluss (union) with Austria in March 1938, the Nazis immediately began construction of a concentration camp near Linz. The site was designed to resemble an old fortress, complete with stone guard towers. Jews and political prisoners from Austria, Holland, Italy, and Hungary were forced into labor at the huge granite quarry on the site. During the war, thousands of Russian and Polish POWs were also interned at Mauthausen.

   Mauthausen held the record for concentration camps (as opposed to extermination camps) for executions and deaths, some 36,000 from January 1939 through April 1945. Many of these died from the exhausting labor in the granite quarry; others were executed in the gas chamber or shot to death. Estimates for the complete death toll at Mauthausen vary widely by source, since most records were destroyed in 1945. The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum estimates the number at over 95,000, but this includes the deaths at the nearby Gusen camps (where more inmates died than actually at the Mauthausen main camp), and also all the other outlying sub-camps of the Mauthausen system. Mauthausen was liberated by the U.S. Army 11th Armored Division on 5-6 May 1945.

MapQuest map link to Mauthausen

 

Entrance gate to the main compound at Mauthausen. Just inside the entrance gate is a courtyard where prisoner formations were sometimes held. The large iron eagle over the gate was removed immediately following the liberation (see bottom of this page).  (Museum KZ-Lager Mauthausen)

 

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Entrance to the Mauthausen main camp, in 1945 and now. In the left foreground of the modern photo is a large water reservoir for fire fighting (now empty).  (Museum KZ-Lager Mauthausen)

 

The first courtyard, or garage area. These views show the final configuration of the far end. About 1941, the original wooden staff office building (above the far garage doors), was rebuilt in stone, and the configuration of the garage doors below was slightly altered.  (Museum KZ-Lager Mauthausen)

 

A guard with a machinegun watches over prisoners in the garage courtyard. The prisoners are being forced to parade in the nude, probably during a disinfection formation. The period photo shows the original wooden staff office building over the garage doors, which originally numbered seven.  (Museum KZ-Lager Mauthausen)

 

A view of the garage courtyard from the other end, looking back toward the guard's position. This photo was taken following liberation, after the eagle was pulled down from above the main gate.  (Museum KZ-Lager Mauthausen)

 

Another courtyard was on a higher level, reached through this gate house. (This is a post-war photo, after memorials started to be applied to the walls.)  (Museum KZ-Lager Mauthausen)

 

Guards with Russian POWs in the inner/upper courtyard.  (Museum KZ-Lager Mauthausen)

 

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The Mauthausen quarry. The period view shows a delegation from the Allied powers visiting the site in May 1945.
(U.S. National Archives)

 

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The infamous Todesstiege, or Stairway of Death. Prisoners were forced to carry quarried blocks of stone up these 195 narrow uneven steps, and on up to the upper level.  (U.S. National Archives, from the captured SS-Archiv)

 

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A Russian soldier guards the Todesstiege after the liberation in 1945.  (U.S. National Archives)

Mauthausen gas chamber. The poison gas from the crystals of Zyklon-B was introduced into the room from the metal tubes.

 

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Former inmates show the crematorium to U.S. Army soldiers following the liberation.  (U.S. Army Photo, National Archives)

 

An M8 "Greyhound" armored car of the U.S. Army 41st Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron, 11th Armored Division, arrives in the lower courtyard on 5 May 1945, liberation day.  (Hal D. Steward, "Thunderbolt - History of the Eleventh Armored Division," Washington, DC, 1948)

 

Liberated prisoners greet a U.S. Army M8 "Greyhound" armored car of the 41st Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron, 11th Armored Division, 6 May 1945. The armored car has driven up a ramp from outside the gate to the inner/upper courtyard. The banner reads "Los Españoles Antifascistas Saludan a Las Fuerzas Liber..." [end unclear] - The Spanish Antifascists Salute the Forces of Liberation.  (National Archives, RG 111-SC)     Click here to visit an 11th AD webpage concerning this photo.

 

Following the liberation, freed prisoners pull down the eagle and swastika insignia from above the main entrance gate. The iron bars that once supported the eagle and swastika still remain above the main gate.  (U.S. Army Signal Corps Photo, National Archives RG 111SC-206399)

 

Rstone.gif (1273 bytes)   Continue to the page for the subcamps at Gusen, and the Kellerbau and B-8 Bergkristall underground factory sites

KZ-Lager Mauthausen webpage  --  http://www.mauthausen-memorial.at/
   (one of the most comprehensive web sites I have seen - complete history, also in English)

Other concentration camp sites  --  Dachau, Buchenwald, Dora (Nordhausen), Sachsenhausen, Flossenbürg, S/III Jonastal, Ebensee (Austria)

11th Armored Division Association  --  http://www.11tharmoreddivision.com/index.html
   (very detailed unit history page with lots of information and photos of Mauthausen)

 

 

Third Reich in Ruins, http://www.thirdreichruins.com/

All contents copyright © 2000-2014, Geoffrey R. Walden; all rights reserved.  All photos taken by or 
from the collection of Geoffrey R. Walden, except where specifically noted.  Please respect my property rights,
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This page is intended for historical research only, and no political or philosophical aims should be assumed. 
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This page initially uploaded on 20 July 2000.


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