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Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki appealed at the 10th anniversary of the Auschwitz-Birkenau foundation last Friday, where German Chancellor Angela Merkel was present too, to the Austrian Government to purchase the last remnants of KL Gusen I now!

The former KL Gusen complex was much bigger and had significantly more victims than the related KL Mauthausen twin installation but never became an adequate memorial site. More than 50% of 71.000 (!) inmates were murdered at the KL Gusen death camps by Nazi Germany. Of these 27.000 (!) citizens of Poland were murdered at Gusen. Gusen as indeed the 2nd Katyn.

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On March 10, 2017 the City of Empoli, Italy and the Market Community of St. Georgen/Gusen, Austria renewed their twinning agreement after a first twenty year period. This twinning agreement was signed in March 1997 in memory of many young Italians that were deported from that Italian region in 1944 to become slave workers in such insane concentration camps like Gusen II, Melk or Ebensee. Most of these young men died at this camps under inhumane conditions.

But this twinning is not only dedicated to the memory of the victims of national socialism. In the sense of the “Mauthausen Oath” of 1945 it is also dedicted to support values like freedom, democracy, soidarity and cooperation in a transnational project of European citizens. Since two decades, this twinning communicated these values to countless youngsters and gown-ups in both countries.

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The Polish Council for the Protection of Struggle and Martyrdom lined up an new set of interpretive plaques at the entrance into the “Bergkristall” Underground Memorial of former Concentration Camp KZ Gusen II at St. Georgen/Gusen in December 2015. This new set of plaques was developed together with the Austrian Ministry of the Interior, the Bundesimmobiliengesellschaft, Plattform Johann Gruber, and the Institute for Contemporary History of the Universtiy of Vienna upon proposal by the Gusen Memorial Committee and the Community of St. Georgen/Gusen. These plaques give now basic information about this huge former underground complex of KZ Gusen II to visitors in the languages German, English, Polish, and Italian. We thank especially the participating institutions of the Republic of Poland for financing these important new interpretive plaques that will serve many nations in the upcomming years.

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