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    Liberation of the concentration camps' prisoners in Mauthausen and Gusen – 77th Anniversary

    The memory of the concentration camps prisoners in Mauthausen and Gusen is significant for Poles because of the gruesome events in history that took place there. It is the place of the extermination of the Polish intelligentsia and the population of Warsaw deported during the Warsaw Uprising in 1944.

    Mauthausen was a Nazi concentration camp on a hill above the market town of Mauthausen (roughly 20 kilometres (12 mi) east of Linz), Upper Austria. It was the main camp of a group with nearly 100 further subcamps located throughout Austria and southern Germany. The three Gusen concentration camps in and around the village of St Georgen/Gusen, just a few kilometres from Mauthausen, held a significant proportion of prisoners within the camp complex, at times exceeding the number of prisoners at the Mauthausen main camp. 

    Gusen, as a sub-camp of the Mauthausen concentration camp, played a key role in destroying Polish social elites and people of science and culture – the Polish intelligentsia. Teachers, priests, doctors, officials, architects, engineers, journalists, writers and poets, musicians and composers, social and political activists, university professors and students, artists and lawyers were imprisoned there.

     

    According to the former prisoner of Gusen and the Polish researcher of its history, mgr. Stanisław Dobosiewicz, about 77,500 prisoners of many nationalities (Soviet citizens, European Jews – mainly from Poland and Hungary, Spanish, Italians, French, Yugoslavs, and others), including about 34,300 Poles suffered in the camp. About 44,600 prisoners were murdered and died, including about 27,000. Poles.

     

    The prisoners were treated as slaves and both national and small corporations benefited from the slave labour in Mauthausen and the subcamps. The companies using slave labourers from Mauthausen included:

     

    1. DEST cartel (producing bricks and quarrying stone for German state construction projects)
    2. Accumulatoren-Fabrik AFA (the main producer of batteries for German U-boats)
    3. Bayer (the main German producer of medicines and medications)
    4. Deutsche Bergwerks- und Hüttenbau (constructing mines and quarries)
    5. Linz-based Eisenwerke Oberdonau (the largest World War II steel supplier for the German Panzer tanks)
    6. Flugmotorenwerke Ostmark (aeroplane engine manufacturer)
    7. Nibelungenwerk (the largest tank factory in Nazi Germany)
    8. Otto Eberhard Patronenfabrik (munitions works)
    9. Heinkel and Messerschmitt (Heinkel-Sud facilities in Floridsdorf, Vienna-Schwechat and Zwölfaxing, and other aeroplane factories, also a V-2 rocket factory)
    10. Österreichische Sauerwerks (arms producer)
    11. Rax-Werke (machinery and V-2 rockets)
    12. Steyr-Daimler-Puch (arms and vehicles)

     

    Mauthausen was one of the first massive concentration camp complexes in Nazi Germany, and the last to be liberated by the Allies. The Mauthausen main camp is now a museum. We have to remember this tragic history and not let it vanish.

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