I walked up the famous Stairs of Death, but I didn’t walk down them. I hired a cab to take me to the bottom of the stairs, where I took the photo above, and then slowly climbed up the stairs, resting several times. Yes, this is a long steep climb!
I did a search on the recent news stories about Mauthausen, but all of the news has been published in German newspapers and I can’t read German well enough to make out what is going on.
The Mauthausen camp was a Class III camp, meaning that it was the worst of the camps. Yet, it was the most beautiful of the camps; it was located in a beautiful setting, near the beautiful town of Mauthausen in Austria.
The notorious Nazi concentration camp at Mauthausen was opened on August 8, 1938, a few months after the Anschluss of Austria and Germany on March 12, 1938, which marked the beginning of Hitler’s drive to conquer Europe.
The site for the camp was chosen by Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler, the head of the elite SS Army, and the man who had authority over all the Nazi concentration camps. The location was in isolated farm country, but near the Wienergraben, a municipal quarry which supplied the city of Wien (Vienna) with granite stones. The quarry was near the city of Linz, which Hitler referred to as his “home town,” although he was born in Braunau am Inn, a small town on the border between Germany and Austria.
As a young man, Hitler had had dreams of becoming an architect, but he failed the entrance exam to be admitted to architectural school. Years later, as the German Führer (Leader) he had grandiose plans for uniting all the ethnic Germans and rebuilding Berlin as Germania, the capital of Greater Germany. He was also planning to rebuild Linz, the place where he intended to retire and the place near where his parents were buried in the small town of Leonding.
These plans required plenty of granite and brick, as well as manual labor, so after 1937, many of the Nazi concentration camps were located near quarries or gravel pits so that prison labor could be used for the production of building materials for Hitler’s projects. Other camps that were established near quarries include Buchenwald, Flossenbürg, Gross Rosen in Silesia in 1939 and Natzweiler in Alsace in 1942. The Sachsenhausen camp near Berlin had the world’s largest brick factory and the Neuengamme camp near Hamburg also had a brick factory.
You can read more about Mauthausen on my website at http://www.scrapbookpages.com/Mauthausen/KZMauthausen/index.html