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April 22, 2019

Mauthausen-Gusen (KL)

"In the middle of the most beautiful scenery you could ever imagine is this hellhole." This is how Army nurse Mae Lopatin of the 130th Evacuation Hospital described the Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria. She arrived in Mauthausen on 15 May 1945. Her job was to assist the work of former prisoners who were caring for the sick in the liberated camp.

On Easter Monday, we took a short trip to Austria to visit the Mauthausen and Gusen concentration camps. The first one is located on the top of a beautiful hill with a breathtaking view on Austrian countryside. It is hard to believe that this place witnessed the most horrible atrocities between 1938 and 1945.

The Gusen camp is located at the bottom of the hill. It was established to extinguish the lives of the prisoners by heavy labor in the stone quarries nearby. There are only several buildings left, including a beautiful memorial. The whole camp area has been turned into... a quarter of single-family houses.

On 5 May 1945 the US Army reached Gusen and Mauthausen. The 130th and 131st Evacuation Hospitals took care of the liberated prisoners. Some of them were in such a weakened state that many still died in the days and weeks following the liberation. Of a total of around 190,000 people imprisoned in the Mauthausen concentration camp and its subcamps over seven years, at least 90,000 died.

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