What was Mauthausen?


Mauthausen was a concentration and labour camp established near Linz after the 1938 Anschluss between Germany and Austria. The central feature of the camp was a quarry in which prisoners were forced to work. The steps to the quarry were an instrument of torture and death: those who could no longer carry the impossible loads were thrown to their deaths from the top.

As the war progressed, Mauthausen became a camp with a population of criminals and those who opposed the Nazi regime through conscience: Jehovah’s Witnesses and religious conscientious objectors were sent there. In April 1940, Vichy France turned over thousands of refugees from the Spanish Civil War: most of these, at least 7,000, were imprisoned at Mauthausen. Approximately 90, 000 people died in Mauthasen: at least 14,000 of them Jews.

In the later stages of the war, Mauthausen was a destination for thousands of prisoners evacuated from the east in the death marches. Mauthausen was liberated on 5 May, 1945 by American troops, two days after the last members of the SS had fled. It is now a museum and memorial.

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