Ebensee


Ebensee is a small Austrian town about 75 kilometers southwest of Linz with about 8500 inhabitants. It is beautifully situated with steep slopes at Lake Traunsee, but it is not the scenic views that the city is remembered for, but it is the concentration camp that the Nazis established in 1943. Ebensee was a satellite camp to Mauthausen and was one of several camps established in the second half of the war. Its original purpose was that it would replace the rocket factory in Peenemunde where the Germans manufactured and developed the V1 and V2 rockets. In Ebensee, the prisoners were therefore initially forced to work on rebuilding the factory. The reason why the production of V1 and V2 was moved to Ebensee was that the Peenemunde factory was bombed by allied aircraft. Therefore, the production in Ebensee was placed inside the mountains, which then became a natural protection against possible bomb attacks.

The project was called ’Projekt Zement’ but the production of V1 and perhaps above all V2 was moved later to Nordhausen. The tunnel complexes in Ebensee were instead used for other war production. Below the mountain, the prison camp itself, which until liberation expanded and consisted when the camp was liberated in May 1945 of about 40 barracks and a crematorium. Until the summer of 1944, the dead had been transported to Mauthausen to be cremated, but as the number of dead rose, the Nazis built their own crematorium. It is, as in most cases, difficult to determine how many died in Ebensee during the scarce two years that the camp existed, but the number of victims is around 20,000, most of whom died during the last months of the war when the camp was heavily overpopulated. 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 of infection the camp was demolished.

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 and the only thing left of the camp is the former camp entrance. 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).