The site of Austria's biggest concentration camp now honors its victims.
The Mauthausen Memorial describes itself as “a former crime scene, a place of memory, a cemetery for the mortal remains of thousands of those murdered here and, increasingly, a site of political and historical education.”
Between 1938 and 1945, the concentration camp was the center of over 40 sub camps, and was the main site of persecution by the National Socialist regime on Austrian territory.
The memorial features a museum in the preserved buildings of the center camp. There are three permanent collections. “The Mauthausen Concentration Camp 1938–1945” features the history of the concentration camp and the surrounding sub camps. It’s housed in what was the Krankenrevier (Infirmary) and includes over 100 original objects from the area. In the ‘60s it was adapted for use as the museum, and in 2010 it was remodeled to meet the new exhibition’s needs.
“The Crime Scenes of Mauthausen—Searching for Traces” precedes the gas chamber, the crematoria, and other execution sites. The exhibition’s goal, according to the museum, is to “provide people with information and context in preparation for their visit to the former killing areas.”
The “Room of Names” features over 81,000 names of those killed at Mauthausen and the surrounding sub camps. The room is meant to offer a more individual alternative to monuments that focus on groups who were killed and those that feature Germanized versions of victims’ names. The “Digital Memorial Book for the Dead of the Mauthausen Concentration Camp and its Subcamps” is an online version of the room.
The outside areas feature sculptures that honor the 190,000 people from over 40 different nations who were imprisoned during the camp’s seven years of terror. Memorial sculptures of varying sizes and styles pay homage to the Jewish, French, Dutch, Polish, and other victims of Mauthausen. One particularly striking statue is the Albanian Memorial, which portrays an Albanian resistance fighter standing over a defeated Nazi soldier. He’s about the strike the Nazi in the face with his rifle stock.
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