Ebensee is a small Austrian town about 75 kilometers southwest of Linz with about 8500 residents. It is beautifully situated with steep slopes at Lake Traunsee, but it is not the scenic views the town is remembered for, but its Nazi concentration camp established in 1943. Ebensee was a satellite camp subordinated to Mauthausen and was one of several camps established in the second half of the war. Its original purpose was to replace the rocket factory in Peenemünde where the Germans manufactured and developed V1 and V2 rockets. In Ebensee, the prisoners were therefore initially forced to rebuild the factory. The reason why production of V1 and V2 was moved to Ebensee was because the factory in Peenemünde had been heavily bombed by allied aircraft. Therefore, the production in Ebensee was placed inside the mountains and therefore protected from allied air strikes.

The project was called ’Projekt Zement’, but production of V1 and especially V2 was moved later to Nordhausen. The tunnel complexes in Ebensee were instead used for other war productions. Below the mountain, the prison camp itself consisted at the time of liberation in May 1945 of about 40 barracks and a crematorium. Up til liberation the camp expanded. Until the summer of 1944, the dead had been transported to Mauthausen concentration camp for cremation, but as the number of dead increased, the Nazis built a camp crematorium. It is, as in most cases, difficult to determine how many died in Ebensee during the scarce two years the camp existed. Around 20,000, is one figure, and most of them died during the last months of the war when the camp was heavily overcrowded. When the camp was liberated by the Americans, there were more than 18,000 prisoners in Ebensee. Most of the prisoners had typhoid fever and because of the risk spread of infection the camp was destroyed.

Current status: Partly preserved/demolished with museum (2008).

Address: Kirchengasse 5, 4802 Ebensee.

Get there: Car.

My comment:

In 2008, the former camp area is a large residential area with houses. The only thing left of the camp is the former camp entrance which in a way is a memorial. However, there are still tunnels left and in one of them there is a museum. Ebensee was one of the camps that the Americans filmed in connection with the liberation.

Follow up in books: Freund, Florian: Concentration camp Ebensee: Subcamp of Mauthausen (1998).