Nowadays Mauthausen is an attractive small town on the north bank of the Danube east of Linz, but its status as a quarrying centre prompted the Nazis to site KZ Mauthausen (22 69; Erinnerungsstrasse 1; adult/concession €2/1;9am-5.30pm) concentration camp here. Prisoners were forced into slave labour in the granite quarry and many died on the so-called Todesstiege (stairway of death) leading from the quarry to the camp. Some 100, 000 prisoners died or were executed in the camp between 1938 and 1945.
The camp, about 3km northwest of the centre, has been turned into a museum, retelling its history, and the history of other camps such as those at Ebensee and Melk. Visitors can walk through the remaining living quarters (each designed for 200, but housing up to 500) and the see the cramped and disturbing gas chambers. The former Sick Quarters now shelters most of the camp’s harrowing material – charts, artefacts and many photos of both prisoners and their SS guards. It is a stark and incredibly moving reminder of human cruelty.
Last updated: Feb 17, 2009
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