KZ Mauthausen-GUSEN Info-Page

4th International Conference
on Learning and Research in Working Life
2-4 July 1996, Steyr-Austria

Local-International Historical Initiative

Von der Vergangenheit zur Zukunft

Platform 75 Years Republic of Austria,
from Past to Future


Plattform 75 JAHRE REPUBLIK gives evidence that research-endeavours of people being in ordinary working life can give tremendous impulse to professional academic disciplines.

A group of local individuals started research on the more or less forgotten concentration camp complex of GUSEN, Austria. This local research-endeavour meanwhile developed to an internationally well known local-international initiative moderating professional scientific exchange and
Local-International Commemorations dedicated to the approximately 40.000 victims of more than 20 European Nations.

This local-international initiative gave a crucial impulse to bring the forgotten but biggest former NAZI-concentration- and extermination camp complex of KL Gusen I , II & III back to Austrian History.

A vast amount of informative and commemorative events was planned and carried out between 1994 and 1996 to do this together with the local people that live now in and around that very historic area.


  1. Abstract

  2. Historical Background

  3. Scope of the Local-International Initiative

  4. The Development and Activities of the Initiative

  5. General Results of the Initiative

  6. Contribution/Results to/for Sciences (New Research Aspects)

  7. Future Activities

  8. General Proposals for Improvements to Support Research in Working Life

Historical Background

The national-socialist (NS) period between 1938 and 1945 left deep footprints in and around the communities of St. Georgen/Gusen, Luftenberg, Langenstein and Mauthausen, Austria.

Local population was forced into the Nazi war-machine and population grew four times by Germans coming in to St. Georgen from the "Alt-Reich". This was due to the foundation of the central "civil" administrational complex of the "Deutsche Erd- und Steinwerke GmbH" (DEST) in this small Upper-Austrian village totalling some 1.600 inhabitants prior to the "Anschluss" (annexation of Austria to the 3rd Reich) in March 1938.

DEST was a company held by the SS (Schutz-Staffel; Hitler's private army) and came to St. Georgen along with the exploitation of slave-labour within the concentration camps of Mauthausen and Gusen.

Although the MAUTHAUSEN Central Camp is well known, the bigger and more horrible KZ GUSEN Satellite-Camps never entered history. This because of the fact that mortality in the KZ Gusen camp was much higher and so nearly no eye-witnesses survived the KL Gusen I, II & III Concentration- and Extermination Camp Complex.

First KL GUSEN Camp was founded in Winter 1939/40 to reduce the number of prisoners dying at their daily march between the Mauthausen-Wienergraben Camp and the Gusen Stone-Quarries.

Starting with the beginning the KL GUSEN Camp has had more the character of an extermination camp. This was due to the fact that the first inmates (Germans & Austrians that were against the Nazis) came from the MAUTHAUSEN & DACHAU camp to die in the GUSEN Stone-Quarries by being exterminated by hard labour, brutalities and nearly no drinks and food.

In 1940, exterminating people developed rapidly at GUSEN in parallel to the mass-deportations of Polish intellectuals along with the Nazi-Invasion to Poland. Some 10.000 of the polish elites (politicians, artists, professors, priests, etc.) were killed officially in GUSEN. Polish groups speak from some 27.000!!!

The next groups that came in to the GUSEN camp had been Republican Spaniards that were captured along with the German Invasion to France.

In 1942 one next big group had been Soviet "prisoners of war" that came in to die in GUSEN. Also the first known gazation in a Nazi concentration camp was carried out in Gusen in 1942 with them!

With 1943 the GUSEN Stone-Quarry changed upon orders of Minister Speer to a centre of arms-production by the exploitation of slaves. So, in addition to the stone-quarries, an small-arms production plant was set into operation "employing" some 8.500 concentration camp prisoners for the manufacturing of machine-guns, parts for rifles, aircraft engines and fuselages for Messerschmitt-aircraft.

In Summer 1943 the situation changed due to the first successful strategic bombings of the Messerschmitt aircraft plant at Regensburg, Germany. From this time on, the Germans scattered most of their war-industries and begun to transfer some key technologies to underground installations all around the "Reich".

And, one of this places became the St. Georgen & Gusen area. At first, in Gusen, a small tunnel system (KELLERBAU) was excavated to hide a gun-production plant being transferred from Poland, and, in Winter 1943/44 decision was made to build one of the biggest German underground installations in St. Georgen, some 4 km west of the KL GUSEN I camp (KL Gusen II - BERGKRISTALL).

To carry-out this giant project, Field-Marshall Goehring and SS-Chief Himmler decided capturing and deportation of young, strong men from all the territories, the Nazis had to move out due to the allied pressure.

For ST. GEORGEN and GUSEN, this brought a rapid increase in the number of concentration camp slaves and the broad distribution of concentration camp cruelties to all the surroundings of the camp.

Most of this people were deported in this last phase of the war without any obvious reasons from France, Belgium, The Netherlands, Luxembourg and Italy.

Also thousands of Jewish man (even from KL AUSCHWITZ B) were set into march to ST. GEORGEN and GUSEN to be exterminated by hardest labour, no food, bestiality, and horrible hygienic conditions along with the construction of this giant underground plant dedicated to the final assembly of the first jet-propelled Me-262 plane later on.

Along with this project, KL GUSEN was enlarged in 1944 with the KL Gusen II & III Concentration Camps. So, the KL GUSEN complex with 25.000 inmates became twice the number of inmates compared to the MAUTHAUSEN Central Camp and one of the most horrible ones that ever existed in the history of the 3rd Reich.

Mortality was extremely high and so nearly nobody survived this horrible "Hell of Hells" as former prisoners thought about the GUSEN exterminations by hardest work.

Therefore, the KZ GUSEN extermination facets never entered history and so it remained to be brought back to consciousness by the direct local-international co-operation of the few surviving former inmates of this KZ GUSEN camps and the eye-witnesses within the local population that still is alive.

Scope of the Local-International Initiative

  1. Gathering information about this horrible period in local- and European history from all around the world, and

  2. Giving this information, the reasons and background with its meaning to our modern democratic society to the local population and all other interested people all around the world

  3. Teaching young people the values of humanity, solidarity, tolerance and love by demonstrating to them "The Hell" that people can make themselves on the example of KL GUSEN

  4. Giving older people a forum to speak out what became tabooed within the last 50 years of cold war and political confrontation.

  5. Giving a clear warning against the new developing tendencies towards right wing extremism or Neo-Nazism.
It is an important contribution to understand the past and current political developments in a good way to coming to terms with the past.

The Development and
Activities of the Initiative

Since 1985

Historical research endeavour started within Arbeitskreis für Heimat-, Denkmal- und Geschichtspflege (Heimatpflegeverein) - the local history association.

Official chapter about Nazi-period "Zum Gedenken" (For Memorial) in publication of Community of St. Georgen/Gusen (see Further Reading).

A program was published by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Education and Cultural Affairs to activate people all around Austria to stimulate endeavours concerning the commemo- ration of the 75th anniversary of the foundation of the democratic Republic of Austria.

The idea was taken within the VOLKSHOCHSCHULE DER ARBEITERKAMMER (Association for Adults Education) at St. Georgen/Gusen (VHSAK) upon the project of the Austrian Ministry of Education and Cultural Affairs

Foundation of the (local) "Plattform 75 JAHRE REPUBLIK" upon the initiative of VHSAK. To give a more broad educational impulse to all the people in the area, VHSAK activated;

to gather within this plattform.
So, the following comprehensive series of high-quality events could be carried out (hereby the idea was that each different group that represents part of the population defines individual events that give information and possibilities to exchange and discuss):
April 1994

Historical Excursion to KL Gusen remnants

May, June 1994

Studying-Circle for people interested in this period

November 1994

All-Saints Services dedicated to commemorate the 40.000 victims of the KZ Gusen Camps

December 1994

Active Support of TV-Documentations for FRANCE 3, ORF & 3-SAT ("Mauthausen pour Memoire" by Roy Lekus)

January 1995

Historical Excursion to KL Gusen remnants for Gusen population

January 1995

Presentation of Video "Lass fallen den Stein" (Drop the Stone) to commemorate the victims and sufferings of the KL Gusen camps. More than 400 people attended due to big interest of population in subject! Video had to be shown a few times after this presentation too.

March 1995

Scientific lecture by Univ.-Dozent Dr. Bertrand Perz on concentrations camps in the 3rd Reich

April 1995

Historical Excursion to KL Gusen remnants with respect to the 50th anniversary of the death of Marcel Callo for some 400 people of the Dioceses of Linz and the rest of Austria, including Bishop Maximilian Aichern and a commemorational address of the Archbishop of Rennes, France

April 1995

Weekend-Meeting for youngsters to discuss this evil period and, especially, new trends & tendencies towards Neo-fascism

April 1995

First Austrian Presentation of Prof. Alfred Hrdlickas series of paintings to commemorate the sacrifice of Dr. Johannes Gruber - an Austrian resistance fighter and Nazi-victim of KL Gusen I

May 5, 1995

First encounter and discussion of KL Gusen survivors from all around Europe, and local eye-witnesses (from around the camps) with the local population & younger generation

May 5, 1995

1. Local-International Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Liberation of the KL Gusen I, II & III concentration camps with an official written commemorative address of the Austrian Federal President, Dr. Thomas Klestil and some 4.000 attendees from the local population, all around Europe and even the United States

May 7, 1995

Local-International Service in the Church of St. Georgen for the 40.000 souls of the former KL Gusen camps in the presence of the Governor of Upper Austria and with a commemorational address of His Holiness Pope John Paul II

April 19, 1996

Presentation of Video "St. Georgen in the 3rd Reich". The video was produced by amateurs without any order. Thus reflects interest in local population

May 4, 1996

2. Local-International Commemoration at the KZ Gusen Memorial with some 1.500 attendees. Official addresses of representatives of the Russian Federation, France, Italy, Slovakia, Slovenia and the State of Israel. Some 500 Italian youngsters attended too!!!

June 1996

Exhibition "The Years after Liberation"


A plastic model of the extermination camps was built by an activist of the local history association upon the findings of old photographs and plans.

General Results of the Initiative

Contribution/Results to/for Sciences
(New Research Aspects)


Significance of KZ GUSEN MEMORIAL as Austrias most important Memorial building (also from an artistic point of view).

Meaning & Messages of KZ GUSEN MEMORIAL to commemorators.


KL GUSEN to be one of the most horrible camps in European history.

"Treblinka - Auschwitz - Gusen"

Importance of KL GUSEN II remnants at St. Georgen for European history.

Shoah/Holocaust-Dimension of KL GUSEN II
Knowledge that KZ GUSEN MEMORIAL is dedicated to KL GUSEN II victims too.

KL GUSEN II dominated MAUTHAUSEN Central Camp in final phase of war.

KL GUSEN had twice the number of inmates than MAUTHAUSEN Central Camp (due to KL Gusen II).

KL GUSEN counts more victims than MAUTHAUSEN Central Camp.
KL GUSEN (and KL EBENSEE) mainly responsible for bad conditions in "Mauthausen" - Complex (was a Satellite-System)

Transparency to the martyrium of the Beatified Marcel Callo in Mauthausen-Gusen complex


Behaviour of "human" beings at lowest (!) "living" conditions (wolf-society)

General sociological aspects & rules of life & culture within and around a horrible concentration camp

Complexity of life and "human" extermination-mechanisms in extermination camp (internal hierarchies).

Life & interaction of local population with a concentration camp that spread out to ordinary housing zones.


Significance of Dr. Johannes Gruber as one of Austrias most important resistance fighters.

Total dictatorship of high-ranking SS-man in regard to local political institutions (e.g. communities).

Local people are interested to learn/know their real history and value democratic systems.


Sufferings of local population when being exposed to everyday cruelties (especially women & children)

Traumatization of local population (to live-on with this death-experience) and the possibility to coming to terms with this past (personal experiences).

Fact that 3rd Reich has not vanished from an emotional point of view. It is still a governing experience in minds of local population (NAZI-Education, SS-Terror, Death-Experience, Fear of NAZI-Come Back)

Fact that official statements and public discussion are important means to solve problems of past and contemporary problems.

Future Activities

The scope already shifted from the horrible past to a more better future. So, future activities will be:

General Proposals for Improvements to Support Research in Working Life

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