Grief Tourism

Travel to areas affected by natural disasters, places where people were murdered, etc.

KZ Mauthausen-Gusen: museum & former concentration camp in Austria

31st October 2006

From 1940 to 1945, a concentration camp located in Mauthausen, Austria was a place of torture and murder for hundreds of thousands of people during World War II. Prisoners consisted of men, women and children from various races and creeds. By 1945, more than 15,000 or over 19% of the total prison population were children that were being forced into labor. The camps most notorious way of putting their detainees to death was extermination through labor.

The KZ Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp was home to a rock quarry that the prisoners were forced to work in. The effects of malnutrition left the prisoners underweight and weakened. These prisoners were forced to carry rocks weighing up to 100 lbs up 186 stairs, known as the “stairs of death.” They were forced to climb one directly behind the other so that when one would collapse, they would fall back onto those behind them and cause a domino effect. If they were unable to work or to complete their tasks they were either shot, beaten to death, or taken to the gas chamber.

The number of people who where killed at KZ cannot be proven definitively because the Nazi’s attempted to destroy all records when they left the camp in 1945. However, through eyewitness accounts and records kept by those who worked at the camp it has been determined that somewhere between 180,000 to 300,000 people lost their lives.

The KZ camp was the last to be liberated at the end of World War II. When the U.S. Army arrived to liberate the prisoners, the prisoners affected a small amount of revenge upon their tormenters when they turned on the approximately 30 guards who remained and hung them.

The torture and murder of hundreds of thousands of prisoners led to the installation of a museum at the camp. Today, people from all over the world go through the museum to learn more about the people who lost their lives there. The hours of operation are Tuesday – Saturday from 10 am to 2 pm. They offer explanations in German and English and have descriptive flyers in Polish, French and Italian. The point of the museum is to remind us all what happened there and why we can never allow it to happen again. For more information about the museum you can contact the KZ Gusen Visitors Center by telephone at ++43 7238 2269 or online at http://www.gusen.org/ – The site provides detailed information about the history of the camp, the current museum tours and much more.

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