KZ Mauthausen Central Camp
Several weeks after the annexation of Austria to the Third Reich, decision was made in 1938 to establish a set of two concentration camps in the St. Georgen-Gusen-Mauthausen area. Although the SS bought the first plots of land for this bifurcated concept at first at Gusen, a first makeshift concentration camp was established down in the Wienergraben Valley at the border between the communities of Langenstein and Mauthausen on land leased from the City of Vienna.
Only during 1939, the SS managed to conctruct first prisoner barracks on the hill, where Camp Mauthausen is located today. While Camp Mauthausen was built in a serveral year long period like a medieval fortress with heavy granite stone since 1939, the twin camp at Gusen became operational much faster in spring 1940 because of its wooden makeshift design. With the exemption of one year, Camp Gusen housed more inmates than its twin camp above the Wienergraben Valley that was called “Mauthausen” by the SS after the nearby town, although the camp was actually errected on the territory of an other community.
While the SS located the regional command for the two concentration camps at Mauthausen (Amt D), it located the regional leadership of the corresponding SS enterprises at St. Georgen/Gusen (Amt W). This clearly shows that the SS focused its economic interests to the Gusen part of this twin complex very early. This is also expressed by the acutal size of the Gusen part and the fact that the number of inmates and also the number of victims of the Gusen part surpasses the corresponding numbers of Camp Mauthausen significantly.
For further details about the camp at Mauthausen, please follow the website of the Mauthausen State Memorial.