Scrapbookpages Blog

July 8, 2011

The monuments and memorials at Mauthausen

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 9:15 am

This morning I was browsing the blogs and came across this blog post by the Black Rabbit which tells about the unique method used to gas prisoners at Mauthausen. (I wrote about the gassing of prisoners at Mauthausen on my web site here.) A photo at the top of the Black Rabbit blog shows the gate house at Mauthausen.

In the photo, there is a monument in front of the gate house which obstructs the view.  This photo upset me because I disapprove of a monument being placed in front of this beautiful gate.  I’m glad that I got to see Mauthausen before this memorial was added to the thousands of memorials which clutter up the site of the former Mauthausen camp and distract visitors who want to see what the camp looked like when it was in operation.  Enough already!

My photo of the gate house at Mauthausen

The prisoners referred to this entrance, pictured above, as the Mongol gate or the Mongolian gate. Note the two guard towers on the top which look like Chinese architecture. On the right is the former Jourhaus which has been converted into a bookstore.  

Jewish memorial plaque to the right of the gate

The photo above shows the door of the gate house at Mauthausen; on the right is a plaque in honor of the Jews who were killed at Mauthausen.  To the left is the “wailing wall” where prisoners were lined up after they arrived at Mauthausen.  There were small iron rings in the wall, to which the prisoners were chained. The memorial to the right of the gate is one of several memorials to the Jews who were murdered in the camp.

The Wailing Wall at Mauthausen is now filled with memorial plaques in honor of the former prisoners

Mauthausen gate house as seen from the outside

The Mauthausen gate house, shown in the photo above, overlooks the quarry where the first prisoners, who were sent to the camp, were forced to work at hard labor. The sign on the right in the photo points to the “Stairs of Death” leading down into the quarry which is behind the camera in this photo. The area in the foreground, which is now covered with grass, was the former location of the SS barracks. Red plastic fencing has been placed on the right to prevent visitors taking a short cut through the grass to the numerous monuments which are nearby.

Jewish memorial stone at the top of the stairs to the quarry

The memorial stone shown in the photo above, is in honor of the Jews who were killed “only because they were Jews.”  The stone was placed here by “Die Jüdische Jugend in Österreich” which means the Jewish Youth in Austria.

The Austrian Jews were the first Jews to be deported by the Nazis, starting soon after the Anschluss of Germany and Austria on March 12, 1938. They were not deported to concentration camps, but instead were forced to emigrate to other countries like Great Britain and America; by the time the deportation of all the Jews in Europe started in February 1942, there were around 50,000 Jews left in Austria, most of them over 60 years of age.

In 1942, the majority of the Austrian Jews were deported to the Theresienstadt Ghetto in Czechoslovakia; from there, most of them were sent to the gas chambers at Auschwitz. Mauthausen was not a camp that was specifically set up for the Austrian Jews, nor even for Austrian political prisoners.

Most of the Jews who died at Mauthausen had been deported in 1944 from Hungary to Auschwitz and then transferred to Mauthausen. Most of them had to live in tents under the most miserable conditions.

The road to the field of monuments at Mauthausen

The photo above show the road which leads from the gate house to the road to the quarry which is to the right.  In the center of the photo is the Jewish monument in the most prominent spot.  To the left in the photo is the former location of the SS barracks.

The Jewish monument at the edge of the Mauthausen quarry

The Jewish monument is my favorite of all the monuments at Mauthausen.  It is the most tasteful, in my humble opinion.  The Albanian monument is the worst, as far as I am concerned; it is way over the top in depicting hatred for the Germans.

Monument in honor of Albanian prisoners at Mauthausen

The photo above shows a close-up of the monument of Albania, which was erected at Mauthausen in 1969. It depicts a defeated German soldier being subdued by the strong arm of an Albanian resistance fighter. Note the swastika on the belt buckle of the fallen soldier. Flowers have been left for the defeated soldier by visitors who may have been confused by this statue which shows a German soldier as the victim, not an Albanian resistance fighter as the victim of the Nazis.

Monument in honor of Communist East Germany

Detail of the monument in honor of East Germany

The monument of the former GDR (East Germany), which is to the left of the Jewish monument on the south rim of the Mauthausen quarry, was erected in 1967. It features the statue of a woman who represents the German Motherland and these words written in 1933 by the famous Communist writer Bertold Brecht:

“O Deutschland bleiche Mutter, wie haben deine Söhne dich zugerichtet, dass du unter den Volkern sitzest ein Gespött oder eine Furcht!”

The Mauthausen Memorial Site has more memorials than all the other former concentration camps put together.  There are numerous private memorials that have been put up by the families of those who died in the camp. Inside the gas chamber at Mauthausen, there are memorials to four of the victims who were gassed. One of those memorials is shown in the photo below; it is in honor of Ludwig Haider who was gassed on April 23, 1945, only two weeks before the camp was liberated by American soldiers.  At the time that Haider was gassed, there was a Red Cross representative inside the camp and there were Red Cross buses evacuating the prisoners from the camp.

Plaque inside the Mauthausen gas chamber

Wall filled with memorials inside Mauthausen oven room

In the lower right hand corner of the photo above is a tiny bit of the bricks in front of the oven at Mauthausen; I included the bricks so that one can see how close the memorials are to the ovens.

Wall full of memorials inside the oven room at Mauthausen

The memorials on the wall in the photo above are in honor of individual prisoners who were murdered at Mauthausen.  I feel sorry for the families of the prisoners who died at Mauthausen, but the memorials at the camp are too much. Color me heartless if you like, but I especially disapprove of the plaque inside the gas chamber.  The gas chamber should be preserved in its original condition; it is part of history, not a place to mount what looks like a tombstone.

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