KZ Mauthausen-GUSEN Info-Page

Louis Haefliger & Albert Kosiek

Both man have to be mentioned along with the liberation of the KZ Mauthausen and KZ Gusen Concentration Camps because of risking their lives and careers for the liberation of some 40.000 inmates in that camps in May 1945.

Louis Haefliger

He was a bank-clerk from Zurich, Switzerland that volunteered in 1945 to guide a convoi of 19 trucks of the International Red Cross Comittee with food to the KZ Mauthausen Camps.

When Haefliger arrived a few days prior to the liberation at KZ Mauthausen Camp on April 28, 1945 he was denied any possibility to give that food to the prisoners by the commander of that camp, SS-Standartenfuehrer Ziereis.

But Haefliger did not refuse. He went back to nearby St.Georgen/Gusen and asked Ziereis to contact Ernst Kaltenbrunner meanwhile.

At St.Georgen/Gusen, Haefliger learnt from local people about the crimes and real situation in the Mauthausen and Gusen concentration camps. So, he became convinced to have to do more for the inmates than to bring just the food-stuff.

When Haefliger returned to KZ Mauthausen central camp on April 30, 1945 and since Ziereis has had contact with Kaltenbrunner meanwhile, Haefliger was offered accomodation with SS-OStuf Reimer, the chief of the KZ Mauthausen counter intelligence.

Since this high-ranking SS-man was also a bank-clark in civil life, he and Haefliger have had a good rapport and therefore Reimer told Haefliger on May 2, 1945 about the secret plans of mass-extermination by blasting the inmates and the local population into the air at the KZ Gusen I & II underground installations.

When hearing about that secret plans of Pohl and Himmler that should have been carried out in the last days of the KZ Mauthausen-Gusen camp history, Haefliger decided to prevent this tragedy actively.

So, he infringed his competencies as a Red Cross official and started to influence the war-scenario actively by bringing in Allied Troops as soon as possible to the two concentration camps.

Therefore, on 4 May 1945, with the help of Reimer, he adapted one SS-car as an Red Cross vehicle by painting it white and by organizing a Red Cross flag.

So, Haefliger, Reimer and one driver started in the early morning of May 5, 1945 to search for Allied troops in the surroundings.

With the help of Mr. Aschenbrenner, the vice-mayor of neighbouring St.Georgen/Gusen they reached the valley of the "Gusen" river north of St.Georgen where they saw the platoon of S/Sgt. Albert J. Kosiek ...

S/Sgt. Albert J. Kosiek

... when Kosiek and his 23 men at first saw that white Red Cross car and Haefliger with the white flag accompanied by an SS-man, they thought to be confronted with a trap of the SS.

But Haefliger was able to convince Kosiek to follow them to liberate the 40.000 inmates of KZ Mauthausen-Gusen Complex (some 25.000 at Gusen and some 12.000 at Mauthausen). And so, Kosiek infringed his competencies too and followed Haefliger to St.Georgen, Gusen and Mauthausen.

In fact all of them risked their lives by doing so.

Haefliger & Reimer by being shot by the US troops in the case of any circumstances and Al Kosiek & his 23 men by being by any SS troops somewhere in the surroundings.

But nearly all went O.K. at this day as you can read in the personal report of Al Kosiek.

At first they liberated some 12.000 inmates of KZ Mauthausen Central Camp without any fighting and some 25.000 inmates at the KZ Gusen I & II Camps later on.

While the liberation of Mauthausen was a peaceful one, the liberation of the KZ Gusen Camps was not that successful.

At KZ Mauthausen Central Camp and internal prisoners comittee took over power after liberation. But not so at the KZ Gusen Camps. Here, a very brutal excess of lynching broke out between the inmates and some 500 of them killed themselves at the day of liberation.

There had been many very brutal Kapos at the KZ Gusen without any future persepectives and therefore heavy fighting broke out. Some of this Kapos hided themselves in the surroundings of the KZ Gusen camps and terrorised the local population for several weeks after the liberation. It took the U.S. troops several weeks to capture some 150 of them to bring them back to the KZ Gusen I camp at the end of May 1945.

Furthermore the conditions were that bad in the KZ Gusen II camp that some 2000 inmates died in the weeks after liberation (Father Jacques is just one example).
Information credit:

Back to Oustanding Personalities

Back to Index

For more information, scientific contribution or other suggestions, please contact:


Most recent updates of this page were made on
970620 by Rudolf A. HAUNSCHMIED