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  • Day9

    Mauthausen Concentration Camp & Memorial

    April 6, 2019 in Austria ⋅ ☀️ 14 °C

    Less than 30 minutes from Linz, in the rolling agricultural lands above the Danube and with sightlines to the majestic and still snow-covered Alps in the distance, is the site of the Mauthausen Concentration Camp that was operated by the Nazi SS from 1938 to 1945, when it was liberated by advancing U. S. troops from 11th Armored Division of the U.S. 3d Army. Today it is preserved and operated as an interpretive site and memorial, with both exhibition and teaching/learning spaces, and a memorial park area where monuments from the various nations whose nationals were interred and killed or died there are recognized.

    In all, more than 90,000 perished at Mauthausen and its sub-camps from 1938-45. It was not on the scale of Auschwitz or Treblinka, but no less horrendous. There was a gas chamber eventually developed at Mauthausen, and crematoria, echoing on a smaller scale the implementation of the Nazis’ “final solution” found at an even greater level at the other larger “death camps.” Mauthausen was a work camp. First in a granite quarry for stone for buildings and monuments for the Third Reich (and for the construction of the camp itself), and later in small arms manufacturing and other measures to support the Nazi war effort. Despite the mechanisms of mass murder found at Mauthausen, the vast majority of deaths there came from the deplorable living and working conditions, lack of adequate food and medical care, and arbitrary violence used to intimidate and subjugate the prisoner population, including summary execution (for offenses as petty as showing up without one’s prison uniform cap for roll call), hangings, and shootings.

    It is a most sobering visit, in a place of otherwise incongruous pastoral beauty. But a noteworthy effort by the Austrian authorities and the enterprise now running the camp grounds, memorial, and exhibits to remember and interpret this very troubled time in human history.

    Among the notable detainees at Mauthausen was Simon Wiesenthal, who after his liberation and the war became a renowned Nazi hunter and advocate for justice for those involved in perpetuating the atrocities and war crimes that occurred during the Holocaust.

    Of the over 90,000 who perished at Mauthausen, the names of more than 81,000 have been documented. In the Room of Names, housed where thousands were murdered and their bodies disposed of, is a list of those names illuminated by light, as well as hard-copy loose-leaf books with alphabetical listings. We observed the pages in the listings of the Feldmans and Handmachers, our family names, to see and remember how many of those landsmen were victims of the Shoah.
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    Karen Boss

    If traveling doesn't startle and change us it is not worthwhile. Glad you have had a powerful experience.

  • Day51

    Mauthausen Memorial

    June 29, 2015 in Austria ⋅ ⛅ 21 °C

    Today we went to Mauthausen, one of the largest Nazi Concentration Camp in the world. They began looking for a location to build the camp in 1938. The first people to occupy the camp were criminals who had already served their time in prison.

    On arrival they would be taken to the assembly area where there were blankets on the ground, they were instructed to take all of their clothing, watches and any other items off and place them on the blankets on ground. Once they were standing there completely naked they would have their hair shaved off, taken to the shower and given a uniform. The guards would point at the front gates and they were told 'that is the way in' and then they would point at the crematorium and told 'that is the only way out'.

    There was what they called the 'stairway of death', they were force to contribute by carrying about 50 pound stones up the 200 stairs. They were malnutritioned and weak. Men would colapse and fall down the stairs creating a domino effect. One of the surviors said that you had to see it to believe it.

    There was a cliff face and the guards made them stand in two rows and the rear row was forced to push the front row off the edge of the cliff face. They would either fall head first to their death or into the water and drown.

    One if the survivors told a story of when he was used as an interpreter, he was instructed to tell a group to remove their clothing, count to ten while inhaling gas that would make them lose conscience within ten seconds. The guards were then injected the group with large petrol filled syringes. The survivor was then instructedto check their pulses to find that they were all dead.

    The guards would kill many people, this is only one example. The first to go are the ones that the guards see as 'useless mouths to fill' for example handicapped children, prisoners of war, the elderly and the ill. Often killed in gas chambers, it would take 10 minutes for them to die and 6 hours to remove their bodies from the chamber.

    They were often used as 'guinea pigs' and killed so that people could examine their organs, used to test new drugs and antidopes.

    Every day they would have to march
    And the weakest would be at the back and if they fell behind the guards would beat them with the butts of their rifles.

    Block 20 is where the men would go if they refused to obey orders. They were forced to be out working from 5am to 5pm. They would only get food every third day and even then they were only allowed to have five spoonfuls. They had no tables or beds and would have to sleep on the floor, if there wasn't enough room to sleep on the floor they would have to sleep on top of somone else. When it rained they would have to create a 'human carpet' by laying on the ground next to each other in the parade area so that the guards didn't get their boots dirty.

    On the 2nd of February 1945 one winter's night the men came up with a plan to escape. There would be three groups, the first would over power the guards, the second would short out the power and the third would create a human ladder to get over the fence. 500 men escaped that night. Guards chased the men along with dogs, all of the men found were shot immediately and their bodies were piled uo like a stack of wood.

    By the 28th of April 1945 the guards had already killed 10 thousand men.

    USA Army liberated Mauthausen Concentration Camp on the 5th of May 1945. The first day they buried 1200 and 300 the next day. Members of the USA Army could not believe their eyes and how these people were treated.

    I find it hard to comprehend that a human could do that do another human being. Watching the video and listening to the survior's story gave me goosebumps, I felt so much disgust.
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Langenstein, Лангенштайн, 兰根施泰因