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Published: March 4th 2007
Saturday March 3, 2007 - On Saturday a few of us decided to go and visit a concentration camp in Austria. It is located in Mauthausen, Austria and was the largest camp within Austria.
Getting to the camp was a bit of a struggle though. We woke up Saturday morning to catch the 7:30 bus to the Wiener Neustadt train station, then took a train to Vienna, then in Vienna took the subway to another train, where we finally got on a train headed towards Salzburg. We had to switch trains one more time before we finally arrived in the town of Mauthausen at 12:30.
Once we walked out of the Mauthausen train station, we began to look for a taxi but had no luck. So we started to make the walk to the camp. We were hoping to just catch a taxi as it drove by while we were walking along the Danube River, but there were no taxis in sight. So we ended up walking the whole 3 miles to the camp. (We later found out on our tour, that we walked the same 3 mile hike that the prisoners had to walk when they got to
It was a very rainy day, but we were given free umbrellas by the office at the camp. The tour only cost one euro and there was an english speaking guided tour that we were told we could join for free.
The Mauthausen concentration camp was the darkest and most disturbing place that I have ever been in my entire life.
The "prisoners" as they were called, were forced to walk the same 3 mile journey that we did. If any elderly or young children stopped or slowed down, they were either brutally beaten or immediately shot. Unfortunately, it only gets worse. Once they entered the camp, everyone was forced to stand against the inside wall of the camp and strip naked. Children under 12 years old were killed immediately and babies were slammed against the wall until dead. Then those who were left walked to the middle of the camp where an SS officer pointed to the front gate and said, "That is the only way into this place," then he pointed to the smokestack from the crematorium and said, "and that is the only way out".
The prisoners were forced to work
scary sight along the road
We knew we were definately getting close to the camp.
in the quarry just below the camp for more than 13 hours a day and some would only have 3 tea spoons of soup per day to survive off of. The lucky ones were able to fight for one slice of bread.
I never realized before this tour that these concentration camps were soley used for profit for the SS. They used to prisoners to dig up granite from the quarry. The granite was used for buildings that Hitler wanted built for himself and the SS. The SS also took all the gold teeth from the dead and sold it. They even sent letters to the families of the deceased and said that they have the options of purchasing their loved ones ashes (which even if purchesed, were most likely not the correct ashes).
The SS were brainwashed so badly that they believed they were doing absolutely nothing besides following orders. After each day, the SS men would return down to the town and have a normal dinner with his wife and kids and tend to his garden on the weekends. Life was normal until he returned back to Mauthausen.
We toured the grounds of the camp,
the showers, the gas chamber and the crematorium. The prisoner barracks were badly damaged by a storm a few months earier and were too unstable for us to go inside.
After returning to the tour office, there was a 30 minute movie to watch and it contained pictures and video that made everyone in the room feeling sick to thier stomach. It is hard to grasp the true horror that took place here.
Mauthausen was the last large concentration camp to be liberated. SS officials knew that Auschwitz and other larger camps further east were going to be overtaken by the Americans soon, so they began sending their prisoners to Mauthausen. Over 100,000 people were killed here.
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