As we left Prague and headed south we encountered some interesting signs. Including one with two skulls. It has also been interesting to see a number of car models we haven’t seen for years such as: Opel, Vauxhall, Renault, Citroen, Alfa Romeo and of course our Peugeot. Our Totem is getting between 40 – 45 mpg, but not too surprising when you push a box down the Autobahn at 150 km/hr . . . . with a head wind. Fuel is expensive, but not as bad as we thought it was going to be. In France and Germany it has averaged about 1.40 Euro per liter or approximately $2.24 Cdn per liter. In the Czech Republic we fueled up for about 35 Kroner per liter.
By driving due south from Prague we entered Austria near Linz. We drove through a very intense thunderstorm with extremely heavy rains. At one point we noticed a motorcyclist taking cover in a bus shelter. As we approached Linz, we took the opportunity to visit one of the Nazi’s WW II Concentration Camps at Mauthausen. This particular camp was created by the SS shortly after the German troops occupied Austria in March 1938. It was determined that the granite quarry situated at this location would be helpful in the building of roads and curbs.
Unfortunately some of the buildings have fallen into disrepair since Jeff visited this camp in 1982. There was mention of a large storm sweeping over the camp a few years ago and actually flattening one of the barracks completely.
Mauthausen is described as a work camp and different from an extermination camp, such as Auschwitz or Treblinka. As such, poorly clothed and malnourished prisoners were required to carry heavy blocks of granite up these steps, 5 abreast, row after row, day after day. There were over 4,600 who were deemed to be incapable of this work and shot “trying to escape”. 10,000 we gassed and 4,700 died from lethal injections to the heart and other medical experiments.
We were able to see into one of the two safe bunkhouses where 3 prisoners would share a bunk the size one person would sleep on at a summer camp at home. In the late stages of the war, when the number of prisoners increased dramatically there are accounts of 6 men being assigned to each bunk.
From the picture with Jessica you get a sense of the distance the granite blocks were carried. From the bottom of the quarry on the right to the large tree at the top of the picture which is almost at the point were the picture of the Main gate was taken.
After more dark clouds threatened during our visit to Mauthausen we headed off to Salzburg and had a chance to window shop as we wandered through the town.