|The Rock Quarry
Photo: copyright © Scott Sakansky
beings labor in order to improve their lot, to enhance
the quality of existence. The products of this labor
usually help make things easier by creating a safer and
more comfortable way of life, one that protects one's
family from the elements, keeping it warm and safe. But
here in the Wiener Graben in the main Austrian
concentration camp Mauthausen, the only product was human
suffering... and death. Before the war, stone from here
was used to pave the streets of Vienna. Later, in the
time of the Nazis, the stone was used to create the main
camp above, with its meticulously designed, fitted, squat
and lonely gray walls and towers.
SS Chief Heinrich Himmler introduced the idea of Primitivbauweise , that is, prisoners were to use only the most primitive tools, and also, whenever possible, they should work with their bare hands. Although there were gassings at Mauthausen, they never approached the magnitude of the gassings at Auschwitz. However working conditions here were more harsh. Mauthausen officials were charged with literally working prisoners to death. At no place in the camp was this more evident than in the quarry. Even Auschwitz prisoners feared transport to Mauthausen.
Spanish Republicans at forced labor in the quarry at Mauthausen.
Photo credit: Francisco Boix Collection, USHMM Photo Archives