Monthly Archives: September 2014

On Saturday, September 20, 2014 survivors of the Warsaw Uprising of 1944 visited with surviving concentration camp prisoners and former members of the Polish Home Army and together with the secretary general for the preservation of the memory of struggle and martyrdom in the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of the Republic of Poland, Minister Dr. hab. Andrzej Krzysztof Kunert, and his Excellency, the Ambassador of the Republic of Poland in Austria, Mr. Ambassador Mag. Artur Lorkowski, the KZ Gusen Memorial to honor with military honors the fighters of the Warsaw Uprising that were brought to death in the KZ Gusen concentration camps too.

Besides Minister Kunert and Ambassador Lorkowski, Mr. Stanislaw Zalewksi who survived the two concentration camps Gusen I and Gusen II, spoke words of remembrance. Mr. Zalweski emphasized expressly that the concentration camps of Gusen stand in a row with Auschwitz and Katyn due to their importance for Poland´s history in World War II. Mr. Zaleski also mentioned that Camp Gusen I was known as the “antechamber to hell” among the prisoners and that Camp Gusen II, that was much worse, was considered the “deep heart of hell”. After the memorial service in Gusen two board members of the Gusen Memorial Committee, Mrs. Martha Gammer, and Mr. Rudolf Haunschmied were honored by Minister Kunert in the old town hall in Linz, Austria for decades of honorary commemorational work at Gusen with the gold medal for keepers of places of national remembrance. Prior to the commemoration at Gusen, commemorations were also held at Ebensee and St. Johann near Wolfsberg.

The Warsaw Uprising began on August 1, 1944, lasted 63 days, cost over 200,000 lives, and led to the destruction of the capital of Poland. 600,000 civilians were thereby driven from the city and more than 150,000 of them arrived in concentration camps or were forced into hard labor. Captured soldiers of the Polish Home Army were sent to Stalag VIIIA in St. Johann/Wolfsberg too – a POW camp into which Polish officers were imprisoned since 1939. Today their graves are cared for by the Austrian Black Cross.

75 years after Stalin’s invasion of Poland on September 17, 1939, it is undisputed among historians that only Stalin, who´s Red Army was already in East Warsaw for two months at the time of the fall of the Warsaw Uprising, benefited politically from not supporting the Polish Home Army during the uprising. Thus, most of the Polish intelligentsia, who had fought in Warsaw in 1944, was murdered or driven out by the Nazis. This facilitated the building of communism in postwar Poland later on. The concentration camps at Mauthausen, Gusen, and Ebensee played a key role in the extermination of these elites by the Third Reich after the defeat of the Warsaw Uprising.

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On September 13, 2014, KZ Gusen II survivor Modesto Melis from Carbonia in Sardinia (former inmate No. 82441) was allowed to visit the underground world of the former concentration camp KZ Gusen II at St. Georgen/Gusen with a special permission of the Austrian Federal Real Estate Company (BIG) for the first time since the end of World War II nearly 70 years ago.

Although Mr. Melis served as a paratrooper in the war, he was arrested by the Gestapo with only 24 years of age on February 4, 1944 and then sent after a short stay in the quarantine of Camp Mauthausen on August 13, 1944 as a political prisoner and as an electrician to Concentration Camp Gusen II. There he was housed in block 6 and had to wire the cockpits of the Messerschmitt Me 262 jet fighters under cruel conditions in the underground “Bergkristall” aircraft factory at St. Georgen on the assembly line.

Just because he was a specialist, he survived concentration camp KZ Gusen II, which was regarded as the most terrible camp in the former. KZ Mauthausen-Gusen complex.

The memories of Modesto Melis were edited in Italian language in 2013 in Iglesias, Sardinia with the help of the City of Carbonia and the Italian province Carbonia Iglesias by Giuseppe Mura at Giampaolo Cirronis Editore under the title “L’animo degli offesi” (The Soul of the Injured). The book has 201 pages and contains many illustrations.

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