• Gusen Concentration Camp Memorial
In 1939, the SS established a satellite camp of the Mauthausen concentration camp in the Upper Austrian town of Gusen. The prisoners of Gusen concentration camp performed forced labour in the nearby granite quarries and in the arms industry. A public memorial was set up on initiative of former prisoners in the 1960s. In 2004, a visitor centre presenting a permanent exhibition on the history of the camp was opened.
Image: Gusen, May 17, 1945, The typhus-infected Gusen Camp II is burned down by the US Army, USHMM, Charles R. Sandler
Gusen, May 17, 1945, The typhus-infected Gusen Camp II is burned down by the US Army, USHMM, Charles R. Sandler

Image: Gusen, undated, The Gusen Memorial, BMI/Archiv der KZ-Gedenkstätte Mauthausen, Stefan Matyus
Gusen, undated, The Gusen Memorial, BMI/Archiv der KZ-Gedenkstätte Mauthausen, Stefan Matyus
In December 1939, the SS had the Gusen camp set up as a satellite camp of the Mauthausen concentration camp. Around 400 prisoners completed the camp's construction in May 1940. The SS company »German Earth and Stone Works« (»Deutsche Erd- und Steinwerke GmbH«) deployed thousands of prisoners from the Mauthausen, Dachau and Sachsenhausen concentration camps in the quarries and brickworks at Gusen. Initially planned as a »summer camp«, Gusen was transformed into a permanent camp in autumn 1939. Due to a general shortage of labour, it was decided in 1942 to incorporate prisoners from Mauthausen and its satellite camps into the war production efforts. Gusen prisoners worked on the extension of vast tunnel systems for the relocation of arms production to underground facilities. In 1943, the Steyr-works moved their rifle production to Gusen. In 1944, »Me 109« fighter planes were assembled in Gusen, well-protected from the air raids of the Allies. In March 1944, Gusen II was opened, with Gusen III following in December of the same year. In all, 24,000 people were imprisoned in the Gusen camps in January 1945. In April 1945, most of the Jewish prisoners were sent on a death march towards Gunskirchen by the SS. In the morning hours of May 5, 1945, the 3rd US Army liberated the camp.
Image: Gusen, May 17, 1945, The typhus-infected Gusen Camp II is burned down by the US Army, USHMM, Charles R. Sandler
Gusen, May 17, 1945, The typhus-infected Gusen Camp II is burned down by the US Army, USHMM, Charles R. Sandler

Image: Gusen, undated, The Gusen Memorial, BMI/Archiv der KZ-Gedenkstätte Mauthausen, Stefan Matyus
Gusen, undated, The Gusen Memorial, BMI/Archiv der KZ-Gedenkstätte Mauthausen, Stefan Matyus
In 1940, the SS mostly deployed Polish concentration camp prisoners in Gusen. In 1941, many Soviet prisoners of war and supporters of the Spanish Republic came to Gusen; from 1943, larger transports with French and Italian prisoners as well as Soviet civilians began arriving. The SS practised the principle of »extermination through labour«: most of the prisoners didn't survive the strenuous forced labour and harsh conditions for long. Due to a large demand for labour force, the number of prisoners tripled after 1942. Mostly Polish and Hungarian Jews were deployed in the extension of the tunnel system for the arms industry. Transports of thousands of prisoners at a time arrived from Auschwitz at the newly established Gusen II camp. At the beginning of 1945, further transports with Jewish prisoners from liquidated camps in the east followed. With over 26,000 prisoners in February 1945, Gusen was completely overcrowded. 10,000 prisoners perished in the last months until the camp's liberation at the beginning of May 1945.
Image: Gusen, May 8, 1945, Removal of around 2,000 corpses from Gusen camps I and II, USHMM, US Signal Corps
Gusen, May 8, 1945, Removal of around 2,000 corpses from Gusen camps I and II, USHMM, US Signal Corps

Image: Gusen, 2004, Permanent exhibition in Gusen visitor centre, KZ-Gedenkstätte Gusen, Martha Gammer
Gusen, 2004, Permanent exhibition in Gusen visitor centre, KZ-Gedenkstätte Gusen, Martha Gammer
Soviet occupying forces took over the Gusen camps in 1945 and used the barracks to house troops. In November 1947, they blew up the tunnel systems, while the quarries continued to operate until 1955 as the »Granitwerke Gusen«. For a long time, only an unofficial memorial site commemorated the history of the camp and its victims, built around the crematorium ovens. After the Soviet troops withdrew, the township of Langenstein planned to construct a residential area on the historic site, and the remnants of the crematorium ovens were to be torn down. In order to preserve them, former Italian prisoners bought the parcel of land and donated it to the community, which in 1961 agreed to set up a memorial. Numerous associations of former prisoners helped raise money for the memorial and supported its construction. It was opened on May 8, 1965. Since 1997, the Austrian Ministry of Interior has supported and supervised the memorial site. In 2004, a visitor centre was opened and has had a permanent exhibition on the camp's history on display since 2005. In addition to the remains of the crematorium ovens, other sites preserved of the Gusen I camp include the SS administration building which was at the same time the camp gate and entrance building (»Jourhaus«), a production complex (»stone crusher«), two brick barracks and the remains of the roll call grounds, as well as the bunker and tunnels in the hills. Nothing remains of the Gusen II and Gusen III camps.
Image: Gusen, 2005, Gusen visitor centre, BMI/Archiv der KZ-Gedenkstätte Mauthausen, Christian Dürr
Gusen, 2005, Gusen visitor centre, BMI/Archiv der KZ-Gedenkstätte Mauthausen, Christian Dürr

Image: Gusen, 2004,  The Gusen Memorial, BMI/Archiv der KZ-Gedenkstätte Mauthausen, Christian Dürr
Gusen, 2004, The Gusen Memorial, BMI/Archiv der KZ-Gedenkstätte Mauthausen, Christian Dürr
Image: Gusen, undated, Interior view of the Gusen Concentration Camp Memorial, KZ-Gedenkstätte Gusen, Martha Gammer
Gusen, undated, Interior view of the Gusen Concentration Camp Memorial, KZ-Gedenkstätte Gusen, Martha Gammer
Image: Gusen, undated, Crematorium oven at the former Gusen Concentration Camp I, KZ-Gedenkstätte Gusen, Martha Gammer
Gusen, undated, Crematorium oven at the former Gusen Concentration Camp I, KZ-Gedenkstätte Gusen, Martha Gammer
Image: Gusen, undated, US-Liberators-Memorial and US-Veteran Vincent Mahler, KZ-Gedenkstätte Gusen, Martha Gammer
Gusen, undated, US-Liberators-Memorial and US-Veteran Vincent Mahler, KZ-Gedenkstätte Gusen, Martha Gammer
Name
KZ-Gedenkstätte Gusen
Address
Georgestraße 6
4222 Langenstein/Oberösterreich
Phone
+43 (0)7237 631 86
Fax
+43 (0)7237 394 6
Web
http://www.gusen-memorial.at
E-Mail
BMI-IV-7@bmi.gv.at
Open
Visitor centre: April 1 to September 30 Tuesday to Friday 9 a.m. to 5.30 p.m., Saturday, Sunday and holidays 9.30 a.m. to 5.30 p.m., October 1 to March 31 Saturday, Sunday and holidays 9 a.m. to 5.30 p.m., closed between December 24 and January 6
Possibilities
Guided tours by appointment available in several languages, archive, exhibitions, film screenings, local initiatives geared towards researching the camp's history together with Polish survivor associations