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Construction of Mauthausen Concentration Camp Begins, 1938

On This Day in Jewish History, August 9, 1938

Under orders from Reichsführer SS Heinrich Himmler, the camp was founded as part of an expansion of the concentration-camp network. The Camp was one of the first major concentration camp complexes in Nazi-Occupied Europe, and the last to be liberated by the Allies. Its objective was to incarcerate “traitors to the people from all over Austria.”

Mauthausen was classed as a "Grade III" (Stufe III) concentration camp, meaning that it was intended to be one of the toughest camps for the "incorrigible political enemies of the Reich." From August 1938 until May 1945, Mauthausen saw the deaths of 90,000-95,000 people. Its inmates were comprised of “unwanted” groups, such as Jews, communists, homosexuals, people of Romani origin, intellectuals, and many more. Mauthausen Camp engaged in torment and slave labour – those too weak to work or ‘undesirable’ to be kept alive were sent to its gas chambers or gas vans.

Jews from across Europe were deported to the camp, notably countries such as Austria, The Netherlands, Hungary, and Poland. Reports indicate that as many as 38,120 Jews died in Mauthausen. Over time, Auschwitz had to almost stop accepting new prisoners, to which most were directed to Mauthausen instead.







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