ARBEITSKREIS FUER HEIMAT-, DENKMAL- UND GESCHICHTSPFLEGE ST.GEORGEN/GUSEN

Plattform 75 JAHRE REPUBLIK

KZ Mauthausen-GUSEN Info-Pages


10th Anniversary of
Marcel Calloīs Beatification


Beatified October 4, 1987 (The Vatican)
* December 6, 1921 (Rennes, France)
+ March 19, 1945 (KZ Mauthausen-Gusen)

Marcel Callosī Entry to Mauthausen Death Book

Thoughts of a young Austrian Lady
on Marcel Calloīs Beatification

"A LIGHT IN THE DARK"

by Siegi Witzany-Durda


Stepping out of the front door of my home in St.Georgen/Gusen (Austria), I have always had a huge mountain of sand within eyesight. Getting closer, one can even notice the remains of concrete tunnel entrances that have not been used for decades.

For those who are familiar with our local history - even with its dark periods - it is an outstanding place, bloodstained, a place where ten thousands of innocent people were brutally extinguished more than 50 years ago. As inmates of Gusen Concentration Camp (a sub-camp of nearby Mauthausen Concentration Camp) they were forced to hard labour in a tunnel system of more than 25km. Under the most inhuman conditions (extremely low food rations, overcrowded accomodations fully dirty and louse-ridden, constant beating and degradation) the SS had them build arms and fighter planes for the "Endsieg" (final victory).

Removal of some of the BERGKRISTALL tunnels in 1988 The toll these megalomaniac activities took - the number of victims brutally murdered runs into ten thousands - still makes me feel ashamed as a citizen of St.Georgen, although none of my family was ever involved in any wartime-crimes. The inmates were treated with the utmost contempt by their slave drivers, who did not even consider them human beings; they were referred to as "a pest" , as "worthless creatures" who had to be erased.

Marcel Callo was among the terrified crowd of prisoners exposed to the brutalities of the SS staff and to constant terror. Being totally exhausted, they were all doomed to die sooner or later.

Reading Marcelīs biography I was struck by the maturity of a young man in his early twenties. This short, inconspicuous Frenchman proved a charismatic figure with an amazing strength and courage, defying the seemingly omnipotent regime of NAZI- terror.

Numerous letters he wrote to his family and friends in France and reports from eyewitnesses create the picture of a man who was deeply rooted in his faith. That is the most obvious source of his strength, apart from his family and the love of his home-country.From the bottom of his heart he believed that whatever might happen, he would forever be in Godīs loving arms.

When the NAZI-occupiers rounded up young Frenchmen for forced labour in Germany, Marcel decided not to go underground to join the Resistance Movement but felt a sense of mission to support his fellowmen spiritually on the territory of the enemy.

Of course, he could not do much for them in a material sense, though he is said to have shared his portion of soup with those he felt pity for, but he always had a good word for others, comforting them, trying to strengthen their will to survive this horror, preventing them from giving up hope as a source of life.

What is the message I got? There is no denying that Marcel Calloīs helpfulness in a situation where his own life was in constant danger, where his own strength was diminishing, the sympathy he felt for others and his sincere attempts to ease their pains serve as a shining example to the following generations. Sticking to the principles of humanity, he - in his very personal way - resisted the NAZI-regime. Above all, he was ready to share the fate of his fellow- prisoners, to boost their courage and, if necessary, to be with them until the end. What more can you do?

There is no denying that the system of terror was successful in destroying Marcel physically, but it could not destroy the trace of light he left on a pitch-dark night-sky, as real strength comes from your heart. One brother of Marcel Callo and Gerneral-Vicarius Chopin receive
the dedication of the commemorational path by the mayor of St. Georgen

On October 4, exactly ten years after Marcel Calloīs beatification, the area of the former Gusen extermination camps and the St.Georgen site (BERGKRISTALL tunnel installations) were populated with pilgrims from France, Germany, Hungary and Austria. They had come I am proud of the fact that the Community of St.Georgen decided to name a future commemorational path after Marcel Callo. What a touching moment when the street sign was lifted with members of Marcelīs family present, as well as an international audience of pilgrims, including the local population.

As a 37-year-old Austrian citizen and as a guide in the former Mauthausen Concentration Camp I do not feel guilty for what happened in my country more than 5o years ago, but I strongly feel we have inherited a legacy and the obligation never to let it happen again.
Never ever.

St.Georgen/Gusen, Austria
102097
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Most recent updates of this page were made on
971101 by Rudolf A. HAUNSCHMIED