March of Remembrance - Austria 2014

 

This week in Linz, Austria, well over a thousand Christians with several honored Jewish guests gathered together in the birthplace and hometown of Adolph Hitler to remember one of the worst Nazi Concentration camps of the Third Reich. 

 

Mauthausen – Gusen – St. Georgen

 

The Gusen-St Georgen set of concentration camps were used to build "special" weapons for the Nazi war machine. Constructed completely inside the mountain, the Gusen Camp is where the Messerschmidt airplane (and the first jet engine) was developed, and where Germany's nuclear program also began. Nicknamed Knochenmühle – the bone grinder, it was designed to exterminate through labor. The life expectancy of most prisoners was only a few months, but a Jewish prisoner was expected to last no more than 3 to 4 days.

The opening ceremonies for March of Life Austria were held in the largest sports auditorium in Linz.  We heard testimonies of 5 men who were in the Mauthausen-Gusen camp system.

We were also privileged to screen a documentary by David Fisher entitled "Six Million and One" about his father's experience in the Gusen camps, and how his father's trauma had impacted the lives of his children, who were born after the war in America and Israel.

 

 

Mauthausen Camp is a rock quarry where prisoners were forced to mine granite blocks for the great buildings of the Third Reich.  An incoming trainload of Dutch Jews were forced to jump off the cliffs to the laughter and joy of the SS men who referred to them as “parachutists” and "flying dutchmen". The SS would also play a game of "bowling" by shoving or shooting one of the slave laborers on the steep stairway, allowing the 40-80 kilo rocks they carried to tumble them down “The Stairway of Death” in an avalanche, crushing and crippling many others on the path.

 


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