Mauthausen

Trip Start Jul 04, 2013
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13
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Trip End Aug 29, 2013


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Flag of Austria  , Carinthia,
Sunday, July 28, 2013

On the ride to Emmensdorf from Linz, we visited a German concentration camp. This was a first for me and it proved to be very emotional. The movie "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas" played over and over in my head. Mauthausen was built in 1938 and grew into one of the largest labor camp complexes in German-controlled Europe. In January, the Mauthausen-Gusen complex contained roughly 185,000 inmates with greater than 20 percent of the population being children under the age of 20. The death toll is believed to be between 122,000-320,000. The camp inmates were used as slave labor in quarries, munitions plants, mines and fighter-plane assembly plants. There was also an "infirmary" there which apparently practiced very little restorative medicine and in fact, medical experiments were often conducted on inmates, including trial vaccinations against typhoid. Some disturbing forms of "euthanasia" were also practiced. The complexes were the last to be liberated by the Allied Forces in May 1945. There were approximately 17,000 survivors.
Unfortunately we could spend only a couple of hours there as it was an approximately 65 mile ride to Emmersdorf but I could've spent a whole day there. There's a beautiful museum there that I found both moving and educational. One particular exhibit that caught my eye was a bicycle. The bike was given to Stanislaw Kudlinski, a Polish prisoner, by some nuns in
Linz. Rather than wait for arrangements to made to return to his homeland, he rode the bicycle all the way back to Poland.
As I've said before, this trip really is not about the bike. And this was one of those days that reinforced that notion. The cold shower I had to take at camp that night reminded me that I was blessed to be born in a different place at a different time and that lessons in history should never be forgotten.
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Comments

Steve on

Amen

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