Bookstore Glossary Library Links News Publications Timeline Virtual Israel Experience
Anti-Semitism Biography History Holocaust Israel Israel Education Myths & Facts Politics Religion Travel US & Israel Vital Stats Women
donate subscribe Contact About Home

Mauthausen: Cruelties at KZ Gusen Camps

Dragging Inmates along the Camp Roads

This method was carried out in the first phase of KZ Gusen history. The victims were dragged at their feet over the sharp stones of the camp pavement. This very painful method was used as a punishment for inmates that tried to hide themselves inside the camp.

Drowning Inmates in Water-Tubs

This method of killing was carried out between the summer of 1940 and the end of 1942. In many cases, ill or unfit Poles, Spaniards or Jews were selected to be drowned in tubs, small barrels, etc. Kapo van Loosen, Kapo Klockmann and "Block-Aeltester" Schroegler specialized in this method of killing at KZ Gusen Camp.

Bathing Inmates to Death

This technique of killing people was invented by SS-Hauptsturmfuehrer Karl Chmielewski when he was commander of the KZ Gusen I Camp between 1940 and 1943 (in 1943, he was made commander of the KZ Vought Camp in the Nederlands) to have a very cheap method to exterminate ill or exhausted people at the KZ Gusen I Camp. The method was carried out by his Adjutant SS-Hauptscharfuehrer Heinz Jentzsch in the period between 1940 and 1942. To kill the inmates, Jentzsch brought between 40 and 200 of them into the KZ Gusen showers and exposed them to cold water until they died after some 30 minutes. Because of this method of killing, Jentzsch was nicknamed"Bademeister" (bath-attendent). Until 1943, several thousand KZ Gusen Inmates were exterminated by this very painful method.

"Hanging" Inmates on Trees

For punishment, inmates were hanged on their arms being bound at their backs on some of the numerous trees that originally existed inside the KZ Gusen I Camp. This was a very painful method of punishment that was derived from medieval torture-methods. In some cases, people that were "hanged" were forgotten and died after some 30 minutes.

Throwing Inmates down the KZ Gusen Stone Quarries

This technique was also used to kill people as cheaply as possible. The DEST-chief of the stone quarries at KZ Gusen I, Paul Wolfram was scentenced at the Dachau trials because he personally threw down people at the KZ Gusen I KASTENHOF stone quarry. The same method was also used at the Mauthausen Central CampWIENERGRABEN stone quarry, where "The Parachutists Wall" stands as a reminder of this method of killing in the Mauthausen-Gusen quarries.

Beating Inmates to Death

In the final phase of KZ Gusen II, ill or unfit people were no longer brought to KZ Gusen I to be killed there by gas or by heart-injections. They simply were beaten to death with an ax, sticks and shovels. The night of April 23, 1945, some 600 unfit inmates of KZ Gusen II Camp were exterminated by this method.

Extermination of 420 Jewish Children by Heart-Injections

At the end of February 1945, some 420 Jewish children ages 4 to 7 were sent into KZ Gusen Camp, where they were exterminated by SS doctors and their helpers with heart-injections.

Extermination of Priests

In early 1940, many priests from KZ Buchenwald, KZ Dachau and KZ Mauthausen were sent to KZ Gusen Camp for extermination. Together with the Jewish inmates, they belonged to the lowest-ranking group of prisoners inside the KZ Gusen Camp and, hence, often were exposed to the private attrocities of SS men in the camp. Since religious practice was forbidden in the camp, many priests were punished or killed after being betrayed. It was also wise not to tell anybody of being a priest. Polish priests, in general, were exposed to the full weather conditions, because they were only allowed to work at the external commands in the stone quarry and with the construction of the camp. So, the average survival period of Polish priests in KZ Gusen Camp was around 100 days! Because of the fleeing of two comrades, on August 13, 1940, all the prisoners of the "Stone-Carry" Command were forced to run all day long. By the evening, 14 of them were dead--nearly all priests.

General Treatment of Jewish Inmates

Jewish inmates, together with the prisoners of the Punishment Unit, were isolated in Barrack No. 16. The inmates of this barrack had to do the hardest and most dirty work in KZ Gusen Camp and were subject to attrocities of SS-men, Kapos and other inmates within the camp. So, for example, they were used to empty the cesspools under most inhumane conditions--they had to do this naked (summer and winter) and running at the double. Other times they had to carry the stones in the quarries of Gusen. In the second half of 1940, none of the 41 Jewish prisoners survived KZ Gusen Camp. Between 1940 and 1943/1944, no Jewish inmates are known to have survived the KZ Gusen Camps. The average survival period of Jewish inmates was several weeks. In some cases only a few days. In the summer of 1944, most of the Jewish inmates were sent to KZ Gusen II Camp where they had to dig the huge underground systems. At this camp they did not have any medical support. So, nearly 1/3 of all the KZ Gusen II victims were Jewish.

Sources: Rudolf A. Haunschmied, Martha Gammer and Siegi-Witzany Durda. Edited by Jan-Ruth Mills. Gusen Memorial Committee