Mauthausen

SS-KONZENTRATIONSLAGER (CONCENTRATION CAMPS)-MAUTHAUSEN-GÜSSEN. (Controlled by TV-Standarte IV ('Ostmark').

COMMANDANT(S):

(1) Obersturmbannführer Albert SAUER, from August 8th 1938 to February 16th 1939.

(2) Standartenführer Franz ZIEREIS, from February 17th 1939 until April 1945.

Other known staff: SAUER became ZIEREIS'S deputy.

Hauptsturmfuhrer Viktor ZOLLER Ziereis's Adjutant and OIC Camp Guard.

Sturmbannfuhrer Friedrich Karl ENTRESS CMO (From A2 10.1943 until 07.1944).

Sturmbannführer Eduard KREBSBACH CMO.

Hauptsturmführers Franz MÜRER, Adolf Zütte.

Hauptsturmfuhrer Dr.Albert HEIM-MO.

Hauptsturmfuhrer Dr. Eduard Kresbach (SS Garrison MO until 06.1943).

Hauptsturmfuhrer Dr. Erich WASICKY-Chemist.

Hauptsturmführer Karl Chmielewski OIC Güssen Work Camp.
Hauptsturmführer Michael REDWITZ Administration Officer.
Hauptsturmführer Fritz SEIDLER OIC Güssen Quarry.
NCO's Allois HOELLRIEGER;Schf.Josef NIEDERMEYER.

Female Oberaufsseherinen:Margarete Freinberger & ? Schmidt (Senior Wardresses).

NOTE: there were about 20 SS medical doctors who served at Mauthausen-most were hanged for war crimes-refer Dachau Trials.

HISTORY:

These camps in Austria, and named after pretty little villages of the same name, were located about 5 Kms from the rail station. It was opened in 1938 after land was purchased by the SS owned Deutsche Erd und Steinwerke, and turned into a base camp to service the near-by granite quarries, where inmates fashioned building slabs and cobble stones. (Much of Vienna was supplied with stone from this quarry). There were dozens of sub-camps associated with Mauthausen.

Daily life in this camp was particularly cruel under Ziereis and his deputies, HSf`s. Franz Mürer, Albert Sauer, Adolf Zütte, and an NCO, Allois Hoellrieger.

When war broke out the camp was filled with mainly Dutch males of Jewish origin who became beasts of burden as they were forced to climb the rough hewn stairway to the quarry from the camp and then come down again in a column each loaded with a 50Kg slab on their shoulder. KAPO`s would frequently beat individuals who they thought were slacking, causing a "dominoe effect", which made ment fall and cut themselves badly. Many deaths occurred this way.

There were many satelite camps to Mauthausen. One was at nearby Melk, near the baroque monastary. There, some 8,000 inmates toiled in the sand mines. This sub camp was opened on the 11th Jauary 1944, and was adjacent to, and separated from an army camp by barbed wire.. The inmates were housed in military style barrack blocks. There was a gas chamber and a crematorium there. These sand mines were owned by Quartz Gmbh, and the camp was destined to become an extermination camp for Mauthausen, had not the war ended when it did!

Other work which the inmates were required to carry out was in the sub-camp at Linz, where they worked on assembling BMW "Sahara" motor cycles for the German army in the Hermann Goering factory.

Another sub-camp was located in Passau, Germany, just over the Austrian border, where up to 4,000 inmates, including Russian POW`s, were forced to work on gear-box manufacture for the firm of Z.F. Friedrichshafen. Many of the dead inmates are buried in Passau.

On November 26th 1944, the huge motor from the dismantled Crematorium II arrived from Auschwitz II.

On the 26th March 1944, a special SS Kommando was formed from staff at the Mauthausen camp, and, after being briefed by Eichmann, set off for Budapest, Hungary, to round up Jews. Its leader was OGf. Dr. Otto Winkelmann.

Ziereis and his staff suddenly disappeared in the early hours of the 5th of May and the SS guards ran off in panic. Those that hadn`t were "jumped" by inmates and overpowered and some were beaten to death in a fit of frenzy. Others were dragged back to the camp to be hanged by the inmates. An hour later a US tank drove through the gate and arrested the guards who would have been hanged. Ziereis had ordered the chief of the Vienna Fire Brigade to supply his men as guards until the US troops arrived, he had left it too late. US troops went to arrest Ziereis at his house, but since he appeared with a machine-gun, they shot him. As he lay wounded he made a statement. He died in hospital 24 hours later on Thursday the 24th May 1945.

One of Mauthausen`s inmates, Simon Wiesenthal, a Jewish Architect from Poland, with the number 127381 tattood on his arm, was to become famous after the war. US Forces liberated the camp on the 5th May 1945 and placed it under Red Cross control. Twenty-one days later Wiesenthal approached the US Authorities with a fist full of notes and sketches that he had made during his captivity in thirteen different camp, of events and details of SS staff. He asked if he could assist the US Authorities in locating these people. The US agreed, and helped him set up a desk with the occupation command. He did this for two yearsafter which he set up his own office in Linz as an "Historical Documentation Center". He later moved it to Vienna, and over the years, has collected thousands of affidavits and testimonies. He even paid an ex-Gestapo police officer 500 US dollars for an SS membership list! By 1965 he had exposed over 900 former SS men and women for crimes against humanity, including the Austrian SD Oberscharfführer Karl, Josef Silberbauer, the man responsible for arresting the Frank family in Amsterdam, (refer story The Frank Family), who were afterwards sent to Aushwitz and other KZ`s. Wiesenthal also helped in the tracking down of Eichmann, who was kidnapped by the Israelis and later sentenced to death and hanged in Tel Aviv in 1961. An excellent film depicting Wiesenthal`s experiences titles "Murderer`s Amongst Us", was made. It covers his period in Mauthausen.

Today the camp is a Memorial. To get there: Train from Linz, get off at the pretty Mauthausen rail station bedecked with potted Geraniums! Catch Bundesbus from station to village of Mauthausen, (or catch the river boat from Linz-get off at Mauthausen and catch the bus). The bus ride is about 5 Kms and costs 20 Schillings each way. In the village look for sign "Fussweg:" and the another sign "KZ-Mauthasen", then walk on!

The main Camp I is well preserved. Look for the pink building on the main road. Also see the polished floors in the barracks that the inmates were made to shine, and were never allowed in wearing their boots!. There are plenty of photo`s and documents outling the history of the place. Admission is 20 Schillings - and is the only KZ Memorial to charge admission-but who would complain-it goes towards the costs of maintenance!! The wooden barracks in Camp II at Güssen were fired by US troops to prevent the spread of disease on 17th May 1945 before handing the area over to the Russians as it fell within their jurisdiction once the occupation lines were drawn!

For a very detailed account of Mauthausen-Güssen, and the dozens of subsidiary camps go to:www.gussen.org
Camp Plan