and Local-International Platform ST. GEORGEN/GUSEN, Austria

KZ Mauthausen-GUSEN Info-Pages

KZ Gusen I Concentration Camp
at Langenstein


Prior to the foundation of the KZ Gusen I prisoners of the Mauthausen-Wienergraben Camp were daily marched some 4km to the stone-quarries at Gusen.

Since an average 150 prisoners died monthly in the winter of 1938-39 due to this gruelling march, it was decided in December 1939 to establish another camp at Gusen, Austria.

Hence, some 400 German and Austrian prisoners of KZ Mauthausen-Wienergraben marched every day from Mauthausen-Wienergraben to Gusen to construct 3 prisoners barracks, a few SS-barracks and an electric fence at Gusen by March 1940.

View to roll-call ground with entrance gate and barracks

Because the Mauthausen Central Camp was under construction at this time, as well, both camps (Mauthausen and Gusen) were administered by SS-Standartenfuehrer Franz Ziereis from one central command in the Wienergraben-Valley. But in March 1940, SS-Hauptsturmfuehrer Karl Chmielewski came from KZ Sachsenhausen to KZ Gusen, where he remained in command until 1943.

The first group of inmates were primarily priests and offendors of the NAZI-Regime from Germany and Austria (like Dr. Johannes Gruber).

They were exposed to the heaviest work in the stone-quarries of KASTENHOF and GUSEN and in the construction of the KZ Gusen I and died quickly. "Lager" Gusen became one of the first in the 3rd Reich to exterminate people.

Extermination of the Polish

With the German invasion of Poland, the GeStaPo used KZ Gusen I to exterminate a large group of Polish intellectuals in the stone-quarries of Gusen and on the construction sites. The first group of 480 Polish inmates was sent to Gusen on March 9, 1940. Within one year, Gusen grew from some 800 inmates to some 4,000 by spring 1941. Some 1,522 died in 1940 due to the heavy work in the stone-quarries of Gusen and the brick-production plant at Lungitz. In late 1941, the next group of inmates to be exterminated at KZ Gusen by heavy work were Soviet Prisoners of War. This group of inmates was also the first to be gassed at KZ Gusen in 1942.

The KZ Gusen Crematorium (drawing by Ludovico di Belgioioso) The crematorium was also set into operation on January 29, 1941 at KZ Gusen. During this period, KZ Gusen also got its own death register. Prior to this, the victims had to be registered by the municipality of St.Georgen/Gusen to which the territory belonged.

KZ Gusen developed more rapidly
than Mauthausen Camp

In late 1941, KZ Gusen with 8,500 inmates, for the first time, holded 1,000 more inmates than the neighbouring Mauthausen "Central" Camp.

In fact, exempt for 1943, the Gusen Camp(s) had more inmates than the camp at Mauthausen.

On January 1, 1941 both camps at Gusen and Mauthausen became the only Category III camps in the 3rd Reich - a term meaning "camp of no return" to GeStaPo officials all over the Reich. Being sent to KZ Gusen was, in fact, a death sentence until autumn 1943.

Biggest Stone-Crusher in Europe

Due to the abundance of Polish labor, KZ Gusen and its stone-production developed so rapidly that DEST decided to build what was to become Europe´s biggest stone-crusher at this site. The Stone-Crusher today

The heavy construction work was done by thousands of Spanish Prisoners sent into KZ Gusen in 1941 after the fascist defeat of the Republican Spaniards.

By the time the stone-crusher went into operation in 1941, approximately 2,000 of these Spaniards had died in its construction.

The ruins of that stone-crusher can still be seen. It is also worth noting that the architects who designed the KZ Gusen Memorial around 1962 took this ruin to shape parts of this Memorial building.

KZ Gusen Railway Station

On March 3, 1941, the SS also began a new railway-line between the station at St.Georgen/Gusen, KZ Gusen, and the giant stone-crusher.

Schleppbahn-Bruecke at St. Georgen

The "Schleppbahnbruecke" Bridge, which is still in existence, was cast in concrete by KZ Gusen prisoners in one day and one night on September 15, 1941.

KZ Gusen Archeological Museum

In early 1942, during the construction of that railway-line, the SS found a grave-yard from the Bronze-Age. Once aware of this, Commander Chmielewski ordered the railway-command (Kommando Schleppbahn-Bau) to halt any further construction work and ordered a special command of imprisoned priests under the guidance of Dr. Johannes (Papa) Gruber to make an archeological excavation of the area. Later on, Chmielewski also ordered an Archeological Museum built within KZ Gusen to show these findings to high-ranking visitors from such places as Berlin. By maintaining this museum, Chmieleski also tried to further his SS career by getting the attention of Heinrich Himmler.

After the archeological excavations were finished, construction of the railway-line continued, and the railway began operation on March 23, 1943. So, another instrument of the industrial exploitation of inmates was finished early this year. Eventually, some 25 locomotives were used to keep the giant KZ Gusen complex running.

KZ Gusen Harbor Project

A harbor for Danube Steam Ships at KZ Gusen was completely planned and the barracks already finished when it was cancelled by Minister Speer during a personal visit in March of 1943. Trees had already been removed at the planned KZ Gusen Harbor site of the plan´s cancellation.

KZ Gusen Brothel

In June 1941, when Himmler visited the KZ Mauthausen and the KZ Gusen camp he gave order to establish a brothel for certain groups of privileged inmates inside both concentration camps. So, the KZ Gusen brothel building that still exists as a private house today went into operation with 8 to 10 German prostitutes from KZ Ravensbrueck in autumn 1942.

In fact this brothel was limited to privileged German, Austrian, Polish or Spanish inmate-officials (Kapos) and several privileged inmates of the armament-prodction commands.

Each of this functionaries had to pay RM 2,-- for one visit. RM 0,50 were given to the prostitute and RM 1,50 to the SS-WVHW at Berin.

KZ Gusen War Production

Perhaps due to Speer´s intervention, DEST began to transform production from stones to armament-products in spring 1943 at Flossenbuerg, Mauthausen and Gusen. So, a new set of some 18 baracks were set into operation for that purpose at KZ Gusen, and the commands were called "GEORGEN-MUEHLE I, II, III and IV" for STEYR-DAIMLER-PUCH AG, a leading arms-production company of former Old-Austria and later Nazi-Germany.

KZ Gusen I Plant Layout (drawing by Italian survivor)

At first they began to manufacture parts for aircraft-engines and machine-guns with prisoners from KZ Gusen.

In 1943 DEST also started building fuselages for the Me 109 fighter-plane as a sub-contractor of Messerschmitt AG at KZ Gusen. For this purpose, DEST also invested 4 big, hangar-like baracks north-east of KZ Gusen. DEST produced some 20 fuselages per month for Messerschmitt at KZ Gusen. This armament-projects brought some improvement in the "living" conditions within KZ Gusen, but the situation changed rapidly, when "Sonderstab Kammler" discovered KZ Gusen as a location for German Underground Plants in late 1943.

KZ Gusen Underground Installations

First, tunnels were dug directly north of KZ Gusen to bomb proof the machine-gun production there. Later, this system, with some 12,000 m2, was code-named "KELLERBAU" (you can find the names of inmates in late 1944 here).

The KELLERBAU Tunnels at Gusen Almost simultaneously, another, even larger underground plant was dug at nearby St.Georgen/Gusen with some 50,000 m2 of bomb-proof production area. This largest project of DEST was code-named BERGKRISTALL later on and became one of the most horrible concentration camp sites in WWII history.

The first group of BERGKRISTALL workers were 272 KZ Gusen inmates officially sent to "Bergkristall-Bau" (Bergkristall-construction) on January 2, 1944.

KZ Gusen II - The Hell of Hells

This excavations consumed so many lives that the SS ordered more inmates for KZ Gusen. When the GeStaPo delivered these inmates from all over Europe and other camps, KZ Gusen quickly became overcrowded. So, the SS established a new sattelite of the KZ Gusen named KZ Gusen II.

From this time on, the earlier, more older installations at Gusen were called KZ Gusen I.

By the end of the war, some

The Liberation

All three KZ Gusen camps and the Mauthausen camp were liberated on May 5, 1945 by S/Sgt. Albert J. Kosiek and his 23 men of 41st Recon Squad, 11th Ard Div, 3rd US Army because they were picked up by the Swiss Red-Cross-Delegate Mr. Louis Haefliger, alerted Kosiek to prevent the murder of 25.000 KZ Gusen inmates. The SS had planned to blast all of them up with high-explosives in the KZ Gusen I & II Tunnels.

Number of Victims

All in all some 37,000 people died at the Gusen I, II & III Concentration Camps.

This is

The Forgotten KZ Gusen Victims

The Entrance Gate (Jourhaus) today All the terrain was privatized in the late 50s and private houses were built, where so many people had suffered and died.

To prevent the removal of the KZ Gusen I & II Crematorium Ovens, a group of former Italian and French KZ Gusen inmates bought them to errect the KZ Gusen Memorial that reminds us today to the 40,000 victims of the Gusen I, II & III Concentration Camps.

Along with the Local-International Commemoration on May 3, 1997, this Memorial was given to the Republic of Austria by some of those KZ Gusen survivors. This official transfer also became the reason to present an overview of the KZ Gusen I, II & III history by means of this Web site as of May 3, 1997.
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Most recent updates of this page were made on
000303 by Rudolf A. HAUNSCHMIED,
Martha Gammer, Siegi Witzany-Durda and
Jan-Ruth White with her students in US-Alabama