Quarry camps

In 1938, the SS opened two new concentration camps, Flossenbürg (in Bavaria) and Mauthausen (in annexed Austria). Both camps were located near quarries. Their prisoners were meant to break granite for Hitler’s cities. Over the coming years, the quarries claimed thousands of lives, mostly foreign prisoners. But the first prisoners were German and Austrian social outsiders: in Mauthausen, so-called “criminals” were the largest group, followed by “asocials”, among them many Gypsies. One of them was Adolf Gussak, deported to Mauthausen from Dachau in spring 1939.

042 – The Austrian Gypsy Adolf Gussak recalls the Mauthausen quarry

Quarry at Mauthausen (1942)

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Archiv der KZ-Gedenkstaette Mauthausen

I came to Mauthausen on 21 March 1939. Here I first worked in the quarry. We wore very thin clothes and only wooden clogs. As for food, there was watery tea at midday with sausage jelly which contained pieces of ice. If anyone did not keep up with work he had to undress and lie down. Frozen stiff, the bodies were then loaded like stones on vehicles and taken to the camp. There the barrack elders had to sort the frozen men by numbers. Then the murdered persons were piled up in the washroom. It happened that some among them were still alive. But it was not taken very seriously, they mostly croaked in the washroom already. […] In the quarry we had to carry heavy stones. With them on our backs we had to climb the 180 steps up. The SS beat us. As a result there often was some pushing: everybody wanted to escape the blows. If anyone fell down he was finished off by a bullet in the back of his neck.

Source: Adolf Gussak (1958), Dokumentationsarchiv des Österreichischen Widerstands Vienna, 1371

Translation: Ewald Osers