So from a postcard we saw in an exhibit today, Mauthausen used to be a holiday destination from which people sent postcards.
It has a beautiful front running along the river bank and a gorgeous old town to match. But it has a darker side to, up a slight hill (or a massive hill when towing a trailer and a baby), is the site of a concentration camp. This was in operation at the same time that people were sending their postcards, in which they complained about the nearby smell.
Some 190,000 people were ‘processed’ through the camp. It was a ‘working’ camp, where the prisoners were put to work in a quarry or in nearby factories, but most died within 4-6 weeks of arrival. The conditions there were brutal and appalling. You first come across many memorials, put there by the countries whose people ended their lives at Mauthausen.
There was a lot, but not all, of the buildings left, and some of the sites are now mass graves.
It was a sombering experience, walking through not only the huts where prisoners slept, but through the crematoriums and gas chamber. A room with a very modern exhibit displaying 81,000 known names of people that died there and in satellite camps.
If you go, definitely pay the €3 for the audio guide, as it was very informative. It took about two hours to absorb, and I was glad that Evie slept through most of it.
Feeling a bit subdued, we cycled back down the shorter but steeper route into the town of Mauthausen. We headed to the river to catch a little ferry for the next part of our day…