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Konzentrationslager, KZ#

Concentration Camps: In National Socialist Germany concentration camps were erected as an instrument of tyranny from 1933. Political and religious "adversaries" of the Nazi regime (e.g. Jehova's witnesses), criminals, persons considered "asocial" by the regime, homosexuals, Jews, and gypsies, as well as, from 1939, undesirable aliens and prisoners of war, were incarcerated in these camps.


The largest concentration camp on Austrian territory was in Mauthausen. The preconditions for building the camp were created through the acquisition of real estate and the leasing of quarries belonging to the city of Vienna by the SS company "Deutsche Erd- und Steinwerke GmbH" ("German Earthwork and Quarrying Company") in April and May of 1938. The granite produced in the quarries of Mauthausen was to be used, among other things, for the construction of monuments in Linz. At the beginning of August, 1938, the first transport of concentration camp prisoners from Dachau arrived; these prisoners were forced to build the concentration camp at Mauthausen. Later, men, women, adolescents, and children from all over Europe were imprisoned in Mauthausen. Those unable to work were put to death in many different ways (including "medical experiments" and poisoned gas); thousands starved. Over 100,000 prisoners died in Mauthausen, some in the "Euthanasie- und Vergasungsanstalt" ("institution for euthanasia and gassing") at Hartheim Castle near Eferding. Mauthausen was the only concentration camp in Austria that was classified at the so-called "Lagerstufe III" ("Camp Level III", a combination of concentration camp and death camp). Most of Mauthausen's 49 subsidiary camps served the armaments industry, including Ebensee (gallery driving for underground rocket and development plants, distillation plants, ball-bearing production), Gusen (quarry and gallery driving, aeroplane manufacturing, etc.), Melk (gallery driving, ball-bearing production, etc.), St. Valentin (tank manufacturing), Wiener Neustadt (manufacture of defence weapons parts), Schwechat (aeroplane manufacturing). Since 1947 the Mauthausen concentration camp has been a memorial site, in which a museum was established in 1970.


Similar to concentration camps were the "labour reform camps" ("Arbeitserziehungslager"), to which - from the standpoint of the Nazi regime - persons unwilling to work, persons who had broken work contracts, and so-called "asocial elements", were sent and obliged to perform forced labour. These included Oberlanzendorf (= Lanzendorf), Innsbruck-Reichenau, Admont-Frauenberg, Schoergenhub (Linz-Kleinmuenchen), and Weyer (Upper Austria), as well as the gypsy camps Lackenbach and Salzburg-Maxglan, which were used as interim camps before the inmates were transported to ghettos and extermination camps.


As part of the deportation process of Jewish citizens to ghettos and extermination camps, they were collected in camps in Vienna; Hungarian Jews forced to work for companies manufacturing "important products" for the war effort and for the construction of the "southeast wall" (" Suedostwall") were interned in camps in Vienna, Lower Austria, Burgenland, and Styria.

Literature#

H. Maršalek, Die Geschichte des KZ Mauthausen, 21980; F. Freund, Arbeitslager Zement. Das KZ Ebensee und die Raketenruestung, 1989; B. Perz, Projekt Quarz. Steyr-Daimler-Puch und das KZ Melk, 1991.