Mauthausen's status as a quarrying centre prompted the Nazis to site KZ Mauthausen concentration camp here. Prisoners were forced into slave labour in the granite quarry and many died on the Todesstiege (stairway of death) leading from the quarry to the camp. Some 100,000 prisoners died or were executed on site between 1938 and 1945. The camp has been turned into the emotive Mauthausen Memorial, which tells its history, and that 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 see the 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.
Guided tours lasting two hours take place in English at 10am from March to October. An audio guide costs €3.
Bus 360 from Linz (€5.50, 50 minutes, hourly) drops you at the Mauthausen OÖ Linzer Strasse/Hauptschule stop, from where it's a steep 1.5km walk northwest to the memorial.
Trains link Linz with Mauthausen (€5.50, 30 minutes, hourly), most requiring a change in St Valentin. Mauthausen Memorial is 4km northwest of the train station (follow the KZ Mauthausen signs), around an hour's walk, of which the final 1.5km is uphill.