The Gusen Memorial in Gusen (municipality of Langenstein) in the lower Mühlviertel , not far from Mauthausen on the Danube , is one of the most important memorial buildings in Austria . It was built between 1961 and 1965 on the private initiative of survivors of the Gusen I , II and III concentration camps from Italy, France and Belgium from donations based on a design by the well-known Milanese architectural group BBPR over the remaining remains of the crematorium of the Gusen concentration camp . The execution was supervised by the Austrian architect Wilhelm Schütte .
History of the monument
The Gusen Memorial was transferred to the Austrian Federal Ministry of the Interior in 1997 by the prisoner organization Comité du Souvenir du Camp de Gusen and was renovated for the first time in 2001. In 2004 the visitor center was set up on the initiative of the Gusen Personnel Committee .
The memorial building consists of a cube built around the former crematorium ovens, which reminds of the industrial dimension of the extermination of concentration camp prisoners through work, referring to the remains of the DEST stone crusher in Gusen. This cube contains a large number of very personal votive tablets for victims of the Gusen concentration camps. The cube is surrounded by a so-called “courtyard of honor”, in which memorial plaques in various languages refer to the more than 37,000 victims of the Gusen concentration camps and the fact that the former local concentration camps were the most murderous concentration camps in the Mauthausen system .
With reference to the extensive underground armaments factories of the Greater German Empire " B8 Bergkristall " and "Kellerbau", which were built around the Gusen concentration camp , this courtyard of honor is not entered directly, but via an indicated labyrinth, which is called the Last Path of the Martyrs and the grid-like form of the symbolizes extensive tunnel systems. The reference to the largely underground dimension of the prisoners' deployment in KL Gusen is also underlined by the use of concrete (instead of granite). The original idea of making the memorial building accessible only through an underground access was dropped by the architects for the sake of structural simplicity.
A forecourt at the southern entrance of the labyrinth leads to the honor of the Upper Austrian priest Dr. Johann Gruber named Papa Gruber Platz . A commemoration ceremony takes place there every year around May 5th. On this day in 1945 the prisoners of the Gusen and Mauthausen concentration camps were liberated with the help of the ICRC delegate Louis Häfliger . On this forecourt there is a relief of the former Gusen I & II concentration camps, as well as an overview plan showing the large-scale expansion of the Gusen concentration camps. There is also a memorial stone donated by American liberators in 2005 in honor of all who gave their lives for the liberation of Europe and the Holocaust .
Gusen visitor center
In 2004, the Federal Ministry of the Interior set up a visitor center in the area immediately to the north .
Structural interventions in the memorial
During the construction work, the remains of the former crematorium barracks were uncovered and integrated into the new building planned by the Viennese architect group MSPH. The access area of the memorial leading in a spiral to the crematorium ovens is delimited by an enclosure wall. In order to connect the new building with the memorial, this was broken through and the original access situation changed.
Permanent exhibition at Gusen concentration camp 1939–1945
From 2004 to 2005 the Federal Ministry of the Interior set up a permanent exhibition on the history of the Gusen concentration camp in the visitor center. The content concept was created by a team of curators from the Federal Ministry of the Interior under the conceptual advice of historian Bertrand Perz . The focus is on the subjects of forced labor, extermination and liberation. A separate area shows recordings that document the construction of the concentration camp. The exhibition design by Bernhard Denkinger relates to the crematorium and the adjacent building over the former concentration camp area.
Two types of guided tours are offered, dealing with the history of the Gusen concentration camp and the subsequent use of the former camp site as a housing estate. Registration is also required to visit (in groups or as an individual) the Gusen audio trail because there is no fixed on-site supervision, but the Gusen site is also supervised by the Mauthausen Memorial .
- Amicale de Mauthausen (Ed.): Bulletin d´Amicale de Mauthausen No. 102 - No. 121. Paris 1962-1965.
- Teo Ducci: Opere di architetti italiani - IN MEMORIA DELLA DEPORTAZIONE . Edizioni Gabriele Mazzotta. Milano 1997, pp. 22-25, ISBN 88-202-1224-2 .
- Holger Schaeben : The Devil's Son - From the memory archive of Walter Chmielewski. Offizin-Verlag, Zurich 2015, ISBN 978-3-906276-18-2 .
- Official website of the Gusen Concentration Camp Memorial (German and English).
- Gusen Memorial Committee at gusen.org (English).
- ORF: At the scene : The last witnesses. Living in a concentration camp. Broadcast on October 22, 2010 on tv.ORF.at. Retrieved October 23, 2010.
- Monika Weilguni, Andreas Haider: Working up the Nazi era elsewhere - passage against forgetting - art project in St. Georgen / Gusen. on dioezese-linz.at.
- Bibliography on Memorial Gusen in the forum OoeGeschichte.at.
- Ermete Sordo, Roger Heim: Appel pour l'érection d'un monument du souvenir au camp de Gusen . In: Amicale des déportés, familles et amis de Mauthausen (ed.): Bulletin d'Amicale de Mauthausen. Numéro October 102, 1962, pp. 1-2, online at campmauthausen.org (French).
- draft sketch of the building and BBPR Recalling Wilhelm Schütte: Mauthausen memorial - Concentration Camp Memorial Gusen. Point timeline. 1965, August 8th: Inauguration of Memorial de Gusen , further contribution.
- Monument dans le camps de Gusen par dr. arch. Lodovico B. Belgioioso, dr. arch. Enrico Peressutti e ar. arch. Ernesto N. Rogers, le 6 Mars 1961.
- Gusen visitor center. Presentation of the visitor center at the Turn On architecture festival .
- The exhibition. Gusen concentration camp 1939–1945. Traces - fragments - reconstructions. on mauthausen-memorial.org.
- Permanent exhibition “Gusen Concentration Camp 1939–45, Traces, Fragments, Reconstructions” in the architecture database nextroom.
- Memorial architecture : Memorial and permanent exhibition as themes of the Architecture Days 2014 .