Gusen concentration camp

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Wooden barracks in the foreground, the quarry in the background
Economic area of ​​the Gusen concentration camp after the liberation

Named Gusen concentration camp three different prison camp are in Upper Austria east of Linz in the era of National Socialism summarized by the SS as a satellite camp of Mauthausen concentration camp were held. The construction of the camp began in December 1939 and the concentration camp was liberated by US soldiers on May 5, 1945 . In the five years of the camp's existence, around 60,000 to over 70,000 prisoners from all over Europe have been assigned to the Gusen camp system, half of them, around 35,000, are due to the living conditions and the hard work in the quarries and the Defense industry died. With its size, the Gusen camp had a special position in the Mauthausen camp system and, in particular with regard to the size and number of prisoners and murdered people, is comparable to the large main camps under the Nazi regime .

The Gusen camp system consisted of the camps



Prisoners laying stones
Prisoners building camp Gusen I in 1940

At the end of May 1939 only a few weeks after the "Anschluss" of Austria , which acquired SS own company German Earth and Stone Works Ltd. , which verge on the use of the quarries in the region Mauthausen - Gusen - St. Georgen and Flossenburg was founded , Land and mining rights in Gusen. A warehouse in Gusen was already planned at this point. It was also conceivable that Gusen would have developed into the main camp . However, the main camp was established in the summer of 1938 in the neighboring community of Mauthausen. Construction of the camp began in December 1939, right next to the leased quarries. Several hundred German, Austrian and later also Polish prisoners from the Mauthausen camp were driven several kilometers on foot to Gusen every day and by May 1940 built most of the so-called protective custody camp , in which the prisoners' living barracks were located, in Gusen I and SS accommodations to the south of the camp. On the day of the establishment on May 25, 1940, the first transport with around 1,000 Polish prisoners came to Gusen. Since the number of prisoners in Gusen was constantly increasing, prisoners were constantly busy with expanding the camp.

Building material in front of wooden prisoner barracks and accommodation barracks
Construction of the Gusen I camp in 1940. The prisoners' barracks are visible on the right, behind them the accommodation barracks of the SS guards

Initially, the camp was fenced off with a barbed wire fence and wooden watchtowers. In the summer of 1940 prisoners then had to build a three-meter-high stone wall and stone watchtowers. Inside the stone wall there was a barbed wire fence charged with high voltage, with guards patrolling in between. The entrance to the camp was the so-called Jourhaus, where the camp management's offices were located and a prison, known as a bunker, was located in the basement. Little by little, production facilities for the quarries, such as stone cutting halls and a stone crusher, were built in the north and east of the camp. These were later partially used from 1943 by the armaments industry, u. a. the Steyr-Daimler-Puch AG and the Messerschmitt AG , repurposed. From 1941, prisoners had to move a siding from St. Georgen an der Gusen station to the quarry. To the west of the protective custody camp, a clothing store for the Waffen SS was built.

In autumn 1942, a brick-built prisoner brothel was built next to the Jourhaus on the southern camp wall . The camp brothel was planned for the better-off prisoners in the camp, for example prison functionaries , and several women from the Ravensbrück concentration camp were forced into prostitution.

In the north of the camp, a first tunnel system with the code name "cellar construction" had to be driven into the sandstone hill by prisoners in the mountain, probably from November 1943. From the beginning of 1944 a much larger facility with the code name "Bergkristall" was built by prisoners in the neighboring town of St. Georgen an der Gusen. The clothing factory in the west of the camp was rebuilt and expanded for the prisoners who had to work when expanding the tunnel in St. Georgen and during production in the tunnel. This was opened on March 9, 1944 as Gusen II , but was organizationally very closely linked to the original Gusen I camp . For example, sick prisoners from Gusen II were brought to the infirmary, the so-called camp area, in Gusen I. Both camps divided u. a. also a camp clerk and the political department .

Stone watchtowers, stone wall and barbed wire fence.  Barrack in the foreground
Watchtowers, wall and fence of the Gusen camp, around 1942

From 1940 two prisoner detachments went from Gusen to Lungitz , a few kilometers away , where they had to work in a bakery and build a brick factory. A residential barrack was built there in 1944 and camp Gusen III was officially opened on December 16, 1944. Approx. 300 prisoners lived in Gusen III and the camp was therefore significantly smaller compared to the many thousands of prisoners in Gusen I and Gusen II.

Special position in the Mauthausen warehouse system

The Gusen camp was officially run as a satellite camp of the Mauthausen main camp , but differed in several respects from the other satellite camps. Until 1944, the camp had partial autonomy from the main camp. For example, up until the beginning of 1944, prisoners in Gusen were numbered separately, whereas in other satellite camps a common number registry was used. The first camp leader of Gusen, Karl Chmielewski , also had extensive autonomy. The Gusen camp came into being very early on, Gusen was Mauthausen's first satellite camp. From 1942 until the end of the war, over 40 satellite camps of the Mauthausen concentration camp were set up. These were especially located in places where the armaments industry was located. Gusen was by far the largest sub-camp. Of the total of approx. 95,000 prisoners who died in the Mauthausen camp system, around a third of the prisoners died in the Mauthausen main camp, another third, around 35,000, in Gusen and the rest in the other satellite camps. The Mauthausen-Gusen camp thus formed a kind of double storage system with an industrial center in Gusen and St. Georgen an der Gusen and an administrative center in Mauthausen. Due to the high death rate in Gusen, the camp was also called an extermination camp by prisoners . Especially in the first years, the Gusen camp actually served as a place of extermination for the prisoners in the Mauthausen camp system.


Emaciated living prisoner, wrapped naked in a blanket
Former inmate von Gusen shortly after the liberation (May 12, 1945)

The number of prisoners assigned to Gusen fluctuates in the scientific literature. Presumably around 60,000 to over 70,000 prisoners from all over Europe were sent to the Gusen camp system, around 35,000 of whom died. The number of prisoners in the camp increased from around 6,000 at the end of 1940 to around 25,000 in autumn 1944 and beginning of 1945. Approximately 20,000 prisoners were liberated on May 5, 1945.

At the beginning, around 8,000 Polish prisoners were transferred from the Dachau and Sachsenhausen concentration camps to Gusen by the summer of 1940 , where they were used to work in the quarries . In 1941, around 4,000 Republican Spaniards were deported. By autumn 1943, around 4400 more Soviet prisoners of war were sent to Gusen, in the last two years again at least 2000. Because of the high death rates in the quarries in Gusen, more than 2000 Polish prisoners were transferred from Auschwitz to Gusen in 1942, as were thousands of Yugoslavs as well as Soviet civilians brought to Gusen. From 1943, more and more prisoners were used in the armaments industry and now French (over 2400 in total) and Italian prisoners (over 3000 in total) were also brought to Gusen. In 1944, a large number of the prisoners had to work in the tunnel construction . The majority of them were Polish and Hungarian Jewish prisoners. a. from Auschwitz, transferred to Gusen for tunnel construction. From the beginning of 1945 mainly Jewish prisoners arrived from the liquidated camps in the east. In the last four months, at least 14,000 prisoners came to Gusen. The largest group of victims in Gusen were at least 25,000 Polish political prisoners, of whom more than 13,000 died.

In the final phase of the camp, Gusen was the destination of many evacuation transports from camps in the east. In January and February 1945, transports with mostly Jewish prisoners came from the Auschwitz , Groß-Rosen and Sachsenhausen camps . In April 1945, transports from the Mauthausen satellite camps in eastern Austria also arrived in Gusen. Due to the resulting overcrowding of the camp, thousands of prisoners were transferred to the Mauthausen main camp to die.

The next table shows the number of prisoners and victims known today in the Gusen camps. The numbers are all to be understood as a minimum number. In addition to the groups listed, there were prisoners from almost all other European countries.

Prisoner numbers and victims in the Gusen camp
Inmate group Number of prisoners Number of victims
Polish political prisoners 25,000 13,000
Soviet civilians 9000 2700
Soviet prisoners of war 6400 4000
Prisoners from the German Reich 5400 3300
Republican Spaniards 5000 4200
Hungarian Jewish prisoners 3500 2100
Yugoslavs 3200 1300
Italian 3000 1700
Polish Jewish prisoners 2700 1600
French people 2400 1000
total 65 500 34 900

Murder of prisoners

A large number of the prisoners died from poor living and working conditions. There was an extreme shortage of food combined with heavy physical work, often no medical care and poor hygienic conditions that caused diseases such as diarrhea , typhoid , typhus and tuberculosis . In 1940 the Gusen camp was divided into "camp level III". This means that interned inmates had very little chance of survival and until 1942 the camp was mainly used for the murder of inmates. Prisoners were also often murdered directly. So from autumn 1941 to January 1942 there were so-called dead bath actions. Up to 300 inmates were "showered" with ice-cold water at the same time. Sick and weak prisoners often died instantly of circulatory failure. Other inmates who initially survived the action often died of pneumonia over the next few days .

Approx. 2000 prisoners were brought in transports in August 1941, December 1941, February 1942 and from April 1944 as part of Operation 14f13 to the Hartheim killing center about 25 km away , where they were gassed. In March 1942, a group of Soviet prisoners of war were gassed with Zyklon B during disinfestation in a barrack . In April 1945 another 650 invalid prisoners were murdered with poison gas in a barrack. In 1942 and 1943 prisoners from Gusen were murdered in a gas truck . This commuted between Gusen and Mauthausen and around 30 prisoners were murdered by the exhaust gases or Zyklon B during the journey. At least 900 prisoners from Mauthausen and Gusen were probably murdered with it.

For the disposal of the bodies was the end of January 1941, a separate Doppelmuffel- cremator the company Topf & Sons installed. The corpses had previously been taken to the municipal crematoria in Linz and Steyr.

In addition, prisoners were often mistreated or they died from experiments with vaccines that SS doctor Hellmuth Vetter tested on prisoners on behalf of IG Farben . Prisoners were also murdered for an in-camp pathological collection. In retaliation for the defeat in Stalingrad , more than 100 Soviet prisoners were murdered in March 1943.


At the end of April 1945, the SS began to destroy the camp administration documents in order to remove evidence before the US soldiers arrived. However, prisoners were able to hide some documents, especially the death books with the names of the murdered prisoners, and thus avoid destruction.

Allied aerial photo of KL Gusen I and II (KL Gusen II left, at No. 19), April 1945, approx. Two weeks before the liberation

Daily routine in the camp continued until May 3, interrupted by air raids. On the morning of May 3, as in the Mauthausen main camp, a special police unit of the Vienna fire brigade came to guard the prisoners. Members of the Volkssturm had already been brought into the camp as security guards. On May 3rd, only a few work details were sent to work, mainly dealing with the dismantling of the machines. At noon, the guards, air force soldiers and SS officers left the camp for Linz . From then on, the only attempt was to maintain the lack of food supply. After the guards left, the camp was administered by the prisoners themselves.

Louis Häfliger , a delegate of the International Red Cross , had already come to Mauthausen in the days before and tried to get the prisoners released. On May 5, 1945, he drove to the front line and met a 23-man US Army scouting party under the command of Sgt. Albert J. Kosiek near St. Georgen an der Gusen . Hafliger reported to him about the Mauthausen and Gusen camps and guided them first to Gusen and then on to Mauthausen. In the camps, the US soldiers disarmed the fire department guards and sent them in a convoy of prisoners towards Gallneukirchen. The 20,000 or so prisoners in Gusen were officially released.

There is much speculation about the days leading up to the liberation. Allegedly there was an order to murder all prisoners before the Allies could liberate them. However, a document of such an order has never been found, which is why historians consider such an order to be undetectable or unlikely. In the case of Gusen, it was rumored for a long time that the prisoners were to be driven into the cellar building gallery and that they were to be blown up there. Louis Häfliger claimed to have prevented this demolition. Historians doubt this account by Häfliger himself. According to other reports, the camp commandant of Mauthausen Franz Ziereis , his wife, the Gauleiter of Upper Danube August Eigruber or a prisoner prevented the demolition. It is only certain that explosives were installed at the tunnel entrance. However, historians suggest that this should be used to destroy the production facilities so that the Allies would not get their hands on them.

Forced labor

The forced labor of the inmates in the Gusen camp changed dramatically in the five years that the camp was in existence. First of all, the inmates had to work on building the camp. From the beginning until 1943, the prisoners were mainly used in the quarries and in the construction of the necessary infrastructure. From 1943, more and more prisoners were deployed in armaments production for the two companies Steyr-Daimler Puch AG and Messerschmitt AG . After all, from 1944 until the liberation of the camp, many prisoners were used in the construction of underground tunnels for the armaments industry.

German earthworks and stone works

Large dilapidated concrete building
Stone crusher still in existence today, in which track ballast was produced

The reason for the establishment of the Mauthausen and Gusen camps at these locations was the existing granite quarries. Shortly after the so-called "Anschluss" , these were leased by the SS . The SS company Deutsche Erd- und Steinwerke , DESt for short, was founded to manage the quarries . For the plant management and the DESt employees, prisoners had to build settlements and an administrative center in the neighboring town of St. Georgen an der Gusen . The stones were supposed to serve as building material for the imperial capitals. The imperial capital Linz , for which huge stone buildings had been planned, was only about 20 km from Mauthausen and Gusen. Another advantage was that the stones could be easily transported away with the nearby Danube. A large port in Gusen was planned for this purpose, but this was not implemented.

Immediately next to the Gusen camp there were the three quarries, Kastenhof Oberbruch, Kastenhof Unterbruch and the Gusen quarry, in which the inmates had to do forced labor. The prisoners were used in the dismantling itself, in building a siding to the St. Georgen an der Gusen station, in building a narrow-gauge railway and in building a large ballast crusher. Young prisoners were trained to be stonemasons who were responsible for the production of stones for the construction.

Arms production

Tunnel with concrete casing, semi-oval shaped, approx. 6 m wide, approx. 8 m high
Today accessible tunnel of the "Bergkristall" tunnel

From the spring of 1943, the DESt in Gusen made several production halls available for the production of carbines for Steyr-Daimler-Puch AG . These halls were expanded several times and inmates had to produce rifles, submachine guns and aircraft engines in 18 halls for Steyr-Daimler-Puch AG. From August 1943, after an air raid on the Messerschmitt factory in Regensburg, parts of the production of the Me-109 fighter aircraft were relocated to Gusen. Whole planes were also produced later.

Due to the Allied strategy and the possibility of bombing aircraft production facilities from the summer of 1943, a large part of the prisoners were used in the underground relocation of the armaments industry from 1944 onwards. To the north of the camp, the "Kellerbau" tunnel was probably driven into the sandstone hill from November 1943. It is unclear who initiated the construction. Since water ingress kept coming, the construction was stopped after a size of over 8000 m² was reached. The "cellar building" tunnel was then used for the production of Steyr-Daimler-Puch AG , Messerschmitt AG and the Graz University of Technology for defense research.

A second, much larger underground project was started in early 1944 in the neighboring town of St. Georgen an der Gusen . After Steyr-Daimler-Puch AG was awarded the planned Quarz tunnel near Melk, the new tunnel in St. Georgen was awarded to Messerschmitt. The tunnel was given the code name B8 "Bergkristall" . In total, prisoners had to dig around 8 km of tunnels in the mountain, which was lined with concrete. As a result, an underground production area of ​​approx. 50,000 m² was achieved. Thousands of prisoners were brought to St. Georgen every day in two or three shifts to work on the construction of the tunnel and the production in the tunnel. For these, the new Gusen II camp was built west of the original camp , which was opened in March 1944. In parallel with the construction of the tunnel, prisoners had to work in production from October 1944. They produced parts of the new Messerschmitt Me-262 jet fighter , which was regarded as a kind of miracle weapon and was intended to influence the course of the war. A total of around 1000 jet fighters were probably produced by the end of the war. Over 8,000 prisoners died during the construction of the tunnel and the production of the aircraft parts.


In addition to the work details for the quarries, the camp construction, the armaments industry and the construction of the infrastructure, prisoners were also used in an Angora rabbit breeding facility , which included over 1000 animals. Internal commandos had to work in the food supply, for example in the kitchens or on potato stacks or in the clothing and laundry room. Another detainee detachment had to carry out excavations on ancient burial grounds. More than 200 prisoners had to work in a vehicle workshop. In the camp area, a kind of hospital ward in the camp, inmates were used as doctors and nurses for weak and sick inmates. However, they did not have any bandages or medication and were often unable to help other inmates. The camp area served as a place of death for prisoners who, from the point of view of the guards, were no longer able to work. Some prisoners also had to work in the crematorium and as corpse carriers.

The Linz Army Bakery was responsible for supplying the Mauthausen and Gusen camps with bread for the prisoners . Due to the increasing number of prisoners , a large bakery and a small warehouse for the prisoners working there were built in Lungitz , only a few kilometers from Gusen. This was opened in December 1944 as a further sub-camp of Mauthausen with the name Gusen III . Up to 300 prisoners were housed there. They probably also had to work in a Messerschmitt AG material warehouse.

Warehouse staff

4 SS officers with leather coats and hats in front of dozens of poorly dressed prisoners
SS officers in front of a group of prisoners at Gusen roll call square in October 1941. The officer on the right is camp leader Karl Chmielewski

Camp leader

The camp leader in Gusen was directly subordinate to the commandant of the Mauthausen camp system, Franz Ziereis . Karl Chmielewski was appointed camp leader on July 1, 1940. He previously worked in the command headquarters of the Sachsenhausen camp . Survivors report that he also beat and tortured prisoners himself. Chmielewski remained Gusen camp leader until the end of 1942. He then became the commandant of the new Herzogenbusch concentration camp in the occupied Netherlands .

Chmielewski was succeeded in October 1942 by Fritz Seidler , previously deputy camp leader of Gusen. He, too, had previously been employed in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp and had experience as a second protective custody camp leader in the Auschwitz concentration camp . Survivors also describe Seidler as a sadist who himself murdered prisoners. Seidler was Gusen camp leader until May 1945 and was thus responsible for all three camps Gusen I, Gusen II and Gusen III. Presumably he took his own life at the end of the war.


SS man in uniform in front of a wooden barrack with a sign "Bauleitung"
Subsequently colored photo of an SS man in front of the barrack that was home to the camp's construction management

The guards were responsible for the external guarding of the camp and the work details. When the camp was set up in February 1940 there were around 600 men and this number rose to around 3,000 men for the Gusen camp complex until the camp was liberated. Initially, most of the security guards were recruited from the General SS . Since these were later also used at the front, so-called ethnic Germans were increasingly used. Ukrainians and Soviet prisoners of war were also forced to guard the camp. From 1944 on, members of the Wehrmacht and air force soldiers were also used for guarding. The SS demanded this because the prisoners in Gusen had to work in the armaments industry.

Post-war processes

The Gusen camp was also examined in some post-war trials. For example, it was a topic in the Dachau Mauthausen processes . The Linz People's Court dealt with proceedings against Gusen SS members and prison functionaries. There were also proceedings in connection with Gusen in the Federal Republic of Germany . The former camp leader Karl Chmielewski was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1961.

Post war history

Time immediately after liberation

After the liberation of the Gusen camp on May 5, 1945 by US soldiers , a military hospital was built to care for the former prisoners. Approx. Nevertheless, 2000 people died after the liberation from the consequences of their imprisonment in the camp. In the manner of a military cemetery , a large cemetery was laid out for up to 1,300 deceased prisoners. The residents of St. Georgen an der Gusen were also obliged to take part in the mass funeral on May 8th. You were blamed for the atrocities in the camp by the US soldiers. Former NSDAP members had to help with the funeral. From November 1954 the cemetery in Gusen was closed again. Identified bodies were returned to their home countries in France , Belgium , Luxembourg , Italy and the Netherlands . Other corpses were finally buried in the former quarantine yard and camp II in the former main camp in Mauthausen, according to originally different plans .

Many of the surviving prisoners tried to return home on foot, often on foot due to the lack of infrastructure. However, for some, such as the surviving Spanish Republican prisoners, this was not possible. The former prisoners also lynched former kapos of the concentration camp and looted food and clothing in the nearby villages. The former Gusen II concentration camp was burned down by the US soldiers because of the risk of epidemics. Many armaments production machines, especially in the "Bergkristall" gallery , were confiscated by the soldiers before the area was placed under Soviet administration on July 28, 1945, as the Mühlviertel fell to the Soviet Union as an occupation zone .

Continued use

Crematorium furnace with memorial plaques
Crematorium furnace in the monument that opened in 1965

The former Gusen I camp was used by the Soviet Union as accommodation for Soviet soldiers after the US soldiers left. After the Soviet soldiers withdrew in mid-June 1946, the former Gusen I camp fell into disrepair and the Langenstein community sold numerous items and materials from the camp. The bakery in Gusen III was continued and the barracks in Gusen III were sold by former prisoners. The quarries in Gusen were continued by the Soviet Union from 1946 until the Allies withdrew from Austria in 1955 as the USIA company "Granitwerke Gusen". They were then sold to the Republic of Austria. Some of these quarries are still used by companies today. Because of this economic continued use of Gusen, the former Gusen concentration camp also developed differently than the former Mauthausen main camp . The main camp in Mauthausen was handed over to the Republic of Austria in 1947 with the Allies stipulating that a memorial be erected. The Mauthausen Memorial was opened in 1949.

Housing development and first monument

After the withdrawal of the Soviet soldiers, the site of the former concentration camp became increasingly overgrown. The camp's former crematorium oven developed into a first memorial for the survivors. They tried to get it and put memorial plaques on the stove. Foreign concentration camp associations also held the first liberation celebrations here, which were smaller compared to Mauthausen.

Memorial to the victims' associations, erected in 1965

After the site was handed over to the republic in 1955, the republic decided to subdivide the site and commissioned the Langenstein community , on whose area the site is located, to sell it. The place of the crematorium furnace was a special case as a visible memorial for the survivors. Initially, it was planned to relocate this memorial site, including the crematorium furnace, to Mauthausen as part of a centralized memorial and also to sell this property in Gusen. This would have destroyed the last memorial site in Gusen after the cemetery was closed. The French and Polish embassies and the International Mauthausen Committee protested against it. Finally, in 1961, after lengthy negotiations between the municipality of Langenstein, the state of Upper Austria and Austrian ministries, the property of the crematorium furnace was bought by the Italian concentration camp association ANED and the French association Amicale de Mauthausen . In 1965 a memorial was finally erected around the crematorium furnace. It was funded by the survivors' associations and planned by former von Gusen prisoners. This Memorial Gusen , in the middle of the residential area of ​​Gusen, was not accepted by the local population.


Jourhaus in Gusen. It served as the entrance to the concentration camp during the camp and was converted into a residential building after the war

In the 1960s and 1970s, a housing estate was built on the former camp site of Gusen I and Gusen II . The new residential buildings were partly built on the foundations of the old barracks and stones from the former warehouse were reused for foundations and garden walls. Buildings that were still standing from the former concentration camp were still used. The Jourhaus, the former entrance to the warehouse, was first used commercially and then converted into a private country villa. The former brothel is also used as a residential building. Two former SS barracks were used as residential buildings until the early 2000s, but are now empty. Two brick prisoner barracks were used to grow mushrooms and as office and residential buildings. The former stone crusher and a stone cutting hall are still on the site of the quarry, which is used economically. The former roll call area was filled in with building material. In 2016 the structural remains of the camp, such as the existing buildings and the former stone crusher, were placed under monument protection.

In May 1997 the memorial built by the victims' associations was handed over to the Austrian Ministry of the Interior . This was a first step against the Mauthausen-focused commemoration in Austria. In 2001/2002 the monument was renovated and in 2004 a visitor center with an exhibition on the warehouse was opened. In 2007 the Gusen audio trail was opened, an art project by local artist Christoph Mayer, which leads through the Gusen housing estate to the "Bergkristall" gallery with an audio collage.

The Bundesimmobiliengesellschaft (BIG) became the owner of the "Bergkristall" gallery in 2001 . Since reports saw acute collapse risks, safety measures were taken from 2002. In a process lasting several years, parts of the facility were preserved and secured, and large parts filled with concrete to ensure that the buildings erected above the tunnel were secured. These buildings were erected in the decades after the liberation in the area above the tunnel system. Today around 1,900 linear meters of tunnels are still preserved. In May 2010 the Bergkristall gallery was opened for the first time for former prisoners of the Gusen concentration camp. Today the tunnel is opened a few days every year, on which tours through the facility are offered.

Some of the owners of the land on which there are structural remains of the warehouse indicated that they were ready to sell in 2018/2019. In 2018, the Austrian Ministry of the Interior commissioned a feasibility study “on how to deal with the commemoration in Gusen”. On the one hand, Poland signaled a willingness to buy through Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki on December 6, 2019; on the other hand, Barbara Glück , director of the Mauthausen Memorial, pleaded on December 8, 2019 that the Republic of Austria should buy the land. The memorial in Gusen must be upgraded. On May 8, 2020, the Austrian federal government announced that it would enter into negotiations with the landowners willing to sell. An existing market value appraisal of the properties should form the basis of the proposed purchase.

Memorial initiatives

The first contacts between the survivors and their relatives, who came to Gusen for a liberation ceremony every May, with the local population took place in the early 1980s. In 1986, the Gusen Memorial Service Committee was founded from the Working Group for Heritage, Monument and Historical Preservation St. Georgen / Gusen and the local-international platform 75 Years of the Republic. The committee developed into the most important local memorial initiative and began in the 1990s and afterwards. a. under Martha Gammer and Rudolf Haunschmied, the history of the Gusen camp was scientifically processed. The members of the Gusen Memorial Service Committee also maintain a close exchange with the relatives of former prisoners from Gusen and survivors from Gusen and organize an annual liberation ceremony in Gusen.

After the republic took over the monument in 1997, a personal committee was set up to deal with the expansion of the monument. Founding members were the former Polish Foreign Minister Władysław Bartoszewski , the then President of the Austrian National Council Heinz Fischer , the then Upper Austrian Governor Josef Pühringer and the then Interior Minister Ernst Strasser . The committee in the parish council of St. Georgen an der Gusen "Papa-Gruber" and the association "Platform Johann Gruber" were founded in 2007 and 2011 respectively. They organize events in the region, especially about Pastor Johann Gruber, who was murdered in the Gusen concentration camp . In 2016 the communities of Mauthausen, Langenstein and St. Georgen an der Gusen founded the awareness region . This organizes u. a. an annual human rights symposium.


At the "Bergkristall" gallery, speculations arose about possible unknown levels of the gallery, possible atomic experiments that are said to have been carried out in the gallery and possible buried corpses of concentration camp prisoners. An expert commission consisting of historians, archaeologists and other experts chaired by the district authority Perg finally came to the conclusion in an expert report in 2015 that none of these speculations are true.

In September 2019, these speculations were raised again in a ZDF documentary and a. an underground concentration camp south of Gusen II was placed in the room. According to the historian Stefan Karner, the history of the Gusen concentration camp must be rewritten. Some of these representations were already refuted in the 2015 expert report, new representations by experts were doubted. Barbara Glück , the director of the Mauthausen Memorial , considers the allegations to be merely speculative and some of the evidence on which they were based has already been invalidated. She also criticizes the fact that the allegedly new sources were not made available to other experts.

See also


Reminder reports

  • Bernard Aldebert: Gusen II - Suffering in 50 stations . Elisabeth Hölzl (translator and publisher). Library of the Province, Vienna-Linz-Weitra-Munich 1997, ISBN 3-85252-145-9 .
  • Joseph Fisher: The heavens were walled up , New Academic Press, Vienna 2017, ISBN 978-3-7003-1956-6 .
  • Holger Schaeben : THE SON OF THE DEVIL - From the memory archive of Walter Chmielewski , Offizin-Verlag, Zurich 2015, ISBN 978-3-906276-18-2 .
  • Karl Littner: A life on a silk thread: From Auschwitz-Zasole to Gusen II and my way back to freedom , Books on Demand, 2020, ISBN 978-3-7504-4676-2 .
  • Stanisław Grzesiuk: Five years of concentration camps (Mauthausen memories) German paperback Publisher: new academic press; Edition: 1 (May 29, 2020), ISBN 978-3-7003-2167-5 .

Scientific publications

  • Stanislaw Dobosiewicz: Gusen extermination camp . Mauthausen studies. Series of publications by the Mauthausen Memorial, Volume 5. Vienna, 2007.
  • Rudolf Haunschmied , Jan-Ruth Mills, Siegi Witzany-Durda: St. Georgen-Gusen-Mauthausen - Concentration Camp Mauthausen Reconsidered . BoD, Norderstedt 2008, ISBN 978-3-8334-7440-8 .
  • Rudolf Haunschmied, NS-Geschichte 1938–1945 , In: Marktgemeinde St. Georgen ad Gusen (Hrsg ..): 400 years market St. Georgen an der Gusen , St. Georgen ad Gusen 2011, pp. 99–144.
  • Bertrand Perz : Gusen I and II; in: Wolfgang Benz - Barbara Distel (ed.): The place of terror. History of the National Socialist Concentration Camps. Vol. 4: Flossenbürg, Mauthausen, Ravensbrück. Ed .: Angelika Königseder. - Munich 2006, pp. 293–346.
  • Christian Dürr, Ralf Lechner u. Stefan Wolfinger: Gusen Concentration Camp 1939–1945: Traces - Fragments - Reconstructions . Brochure for the exhibition in the Gusen visitor center. Federal Ministry of the Interior, Vienna 2006, ISBN 3-9500867-7-3 .

Web links

Commons : Gusen I, II, III concentration camp complex  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Bertrand Perz: in FALTER: Why the Gusen concentration camp was forgotten. May 14, 2020, accessed May 18, 2020 .
  2. a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Bertrand Perz : Gusen I and II; in: Wolfgang Benz - Barbara Distel (ed.): The place of terror. History of the National Socialist Concentration Camps. Vol. 4: Flossenbürg, Mauthausen, Ravensbrück. Ed .: Angelika Königseder. - Munich 2006, pp. 293–346.
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