The First Art Newspaper on the Net Established in 1996 United States Saturday, December 20, 2014


New visitor center at Mauthausen tells the dark story of Austria's main concentration camp
Former Polish prisoner Leshek Polkovski walks in front of a Second World War monument dedicated to Polish victims of the Nazis, at the former concentration camp Mauthausen, on May 5, 2013. AFP PHOTO/SAMUEL KUBANI.

By: Simon Sturdee

MAUTHAUSEN (AFP).- US nurse Mae Lopatin Herman summed up the horror of Mauthausen when she described her arrival at the Nazi concentration camp after its liberation 68 years ago this Sunday.

"We could smell (the camp) from a long way off," the former member of a US medical unit recalled. "In the middle of the most beautiful scenery you could ever imagine was this hellhole."

Her account is one of 48 interviews than can be heard in a new visitor centre open to the public from Monday that tells the dark story of Austria's main "KZ" and its subcamps between 1938 and 1945.

Among those taking part in Sunday's inauguration are Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, together with her father-in-law Moshe Spitzer, a Mauthausen survivor, and the presidents of Austria, Hungary and Poland.

Some 200,000 people, around a quarter of them Jewish, from 40 nations were incarcerated at Mauthausen, set in rolling hills just north of the Danube river near Linz, where Hitler went to school.

In 1939, the camp held 1,500 German and Austrian prisoners but by 1942 it had 10 times as many, from Soviet civilians to 7,000 Republican Spaniards who fled Franco's Spain after the civil war.

Around 90,000 didn't make it, perishing in back-breaking labour in granite quarries from malnourishment, disease -- or shot by the guards, hanged, throttled, beaten to a pulp or gassed.

The two new permanent exhibitions, housed in the original buildings, recreate this not only with the interviews but also dozens of original objects that speak volumes about life -- and death -- at Mauthausen.

These include one of the vicious "Ochsenziemer" whips employed by the sadistic guards, a trap door for the gallows, identity bracelets recovered from a mass grave and a rusty can of Zyklon-B poison gas.

Other items tell happier tales, like Hana Berger-Moran's baby clothes -- she was born in captivity -- stitched by other prisoners, or the bike given by a nun to Stanislaw Kudlinski on his trek back to Poland after liberation.

Another new installation at Mauthausen is the "Room of Names", where the 81,007 people documented to have died there are inscribed on horizontal glass panels in the camp's chilly -- and chilling -- former mortuary.

"We wanted to give people their identity back," said director Barbara Glueck. A blank space is left on the panels for the 10,000 other victims "whose identity we will never know," she said.


-- Hitler's first victim? --


But with the new visitor centre, eight years in the making, involving more than 100 institutions worldwide and costing 1.7 million euros ($2.2 million), Austria is perhaps a little late.

It replaces a somewhat more rough-and-ready exhibition set up by camp survivor Hans Marselek (1914-2011) that opened in 1970 and which organisers say was outdated.

Many sites in Germany went through an overhaul following the reunification of East and West Germany in 1990. Dachau, for example, gets 800,000 visitors a year, four times as many as Mauthausen.

"Concentration-camp research didn't really begin in Austria until the 1980s," Glueck told AFP. "It perhaps has something to do with the way Austria deals with its history."

For a long time after the war, Austria brushed aside its complicity in the Nazis' crimes against humanity and saw itself, "annexed" by Germany in 1938, as Hitler's "first victim".

This changed in the late 1980s when a scandal over the -- actually minor -- wartime record of former UN secretary general and Austrian president Kurt Waldheim prompted the country to re-evaluate its past.

"This site now has several functions -- as a memorial, a cemetery, a warning to future generations, a documentation centre and an education centre," Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leiter said at Mauthausen.

"It ensures that we take very seriously our responsibility and duty to pass on the knowledge of the atrocities that took place here, to make sure it never happens again."



© 1994-2013 Agence France-Presse





Today's News

May 6, 2013

Soutine, Cezanne to star at red-hot spring auctions of Impressionist and Modern art

LACMA presents major retrospective of artist, filmmaker, and writer Hans Richter

Little Dancer: A new large-scale steel sculpture by Mark di Suvero on view at The Paula Cooper Gallery

Burials and fragmented walls have been brought to light at the Historical Center of Mexico City

New visitor center at Mauthausen tells the dark story of Austria's main concentration camp

Phillips announces a selling exhibition of works by photographer Sebastiāo Salgado

Modernism comes to the Portland Museum of Art with the William S. Paley Collection from the MoMA

Exhibition of recent work by Barbara Vaughn opens at Dolby Chadwick Gallery

Kimbell Art Museum to unveil new museum building by Renzo Piano on November 27

Doyle New York announces sale of Modern & Contemporary art to be held on May 8

Charlotte Jackson Fine Art in Santa Fe opens exhibition of works by Clark Walding

Recent work by Larry Bell featured in new exhibition at Frank Lloyd Gallery in Santa Monica

Stephen Dupont: Papua New Guinea Portraits and Diaries at Harvard's Peabody Museum

First New York gallery exhibition by the young Mexican artist Edgardo Aragón opens at Laurel Gitlen

Spectra Vision: Curated by Anselm Reyle at Takashi Murakami's Berlin Gallery Hidari Zingaro

Nigeria's Ben Enwonu holds a 'mirror' to African art at Bonhams sale in London

Exhibition featuring cityscapes at Georgia Museum of Art this summer

First solo exhibition of work by photographer Jan Rattia opens at Bridgette Mayer Gallery

All new paintings by Agathe de Bailliencourt in exhibition at Benrimon Contemporary

Florian Morlat's first solo exhibition at Cherry and Martin opens in Los Angeles

Most Popular Last Seven Days



1.- Colossal statue of Amenhotep III unveiled on the west bank of the Nile in Egypt

2.- British royals crown New York visit with gala dinner

3.- Missing artwork rediscovered in "Stuart Little" sells for over 200,000 euros at auction

4.- Rossetti's Venus Verticordia soars at Sotheby's in London to sell for £2.88 million

5.- Russian magnate buys, then returns Nobel prize to American geneticist James Watson

6.- Egyptian Museum unveils four newly renovated halls of the famed Tutankhamun gallery

7.- 'The Secret of Dresden: From Rembrandt to Canaletto' on view at the Groninger Museum

8.- Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum reopens after three-year renovation

9.- More than 200 queries about works by possible heirs received on Nazi-era art hoard

10.- Attorney, artist and filmmaker reflects on the seven lessons learned at 2014 Art Basel Miami Beach



Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .

 

Founder:
Ignacio Villarreal
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal - Consultant: Ignacio Villarreal Jr.
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez - Marketing: Carla Gutiérrez
Special Contributor: Liz Gangemi - Special Advisor: Carlos Amador
Contributing Editor: Carolina Farias

Royalville Communications, Inc
produces:

ignaciovillarreal.org theavemaria.org juncodelavega.org facundocabral-elfinal.org
Founder's Site. The most varied versions
of this beautiful prayer.
Hommage
to a Mexican poet.
Hommage
       

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site