By Kristalynn Davis
Just east of one of Austria’s larger cities, Linz, lies Mauthausen. It is a small and quaint city, one taxi service, a small and simple train station, and laying between substantially steep hills and the Danube. One of the main reasons to stop here is a heart-wrenching one.
The home of one of the most infamous concentration camps of WWII is a simple 5km drive from the train station that is simple, homey, and also was the beginning of an end for many. For me, it was the beginning of my journey.
It was a work camp, not an extermination camp. However, this place claimed the lives of up to 400,000 people until it was liberated in May of 1945 by US forces. The camp contained crematoriums, and a stone quarry at the bottom of hundreds of stairs inaccessible in the winter months. The audio guide walks you through washing rooms, living quarters, basements with objects still hanging from the rafters used for torture, and the prison for the POWs.
If you should ever find yourself here on a slow day of tourism, leave before sunset. The place gets lit up slowly and eerily. Some people can handle being alone in places like this; I’m not one of them.