Satellite Camp Amstetten
Establishment of the satellite camp
The subcamp was established on 19 March 1945. On 20 March 1945, an additional labour detachment consisting of 495 female prisoners was suddenly sent to Amstetten. The work was called “Bahnbau I” (railway construction) for the male prisoners, and “Bahnbau II” for the female prisoners.
The male prisoners who were used for forced labour in Amstetten Subcamp were detained in the barracks of military camp II, which was no longer used by the soldiers. It was also referred to as the “Panzerlager” (tank camp). The barracks were in Grillparzerstraße. Different witnesses have described the camp as having had concrete floors and long, factory-like halls. There was hardly any food and the sanitary conditions were absolutely inadequate. Research on the female camp in Amstetten has shown that the female prisoners had to do clean-up work in Amstetten on two days. Therefore, the camp must rather be referred to as a labour detachment. All prisoners who were part of the labour detachment say that they were taken there and back by train. The bombing on 20 March 1945, which killed numerous prisoners, took place in the Eisenreichdornach neighbourhood.
The exact number of prisoners detained at Amstetten Subcamp during its one-month existence is unknown. Some historians estimate 1,500 male and 500 female prisoners, while others think that based on the transport lists it was 3,093 male prisoners that worked on “Bahnbau I”, and 500 female prisoners for “Bahnbau II”. Hans Maršálek documented 2,966 prisoners in the “men’s camp”, and 500 in the “women’s camp”.
The prisoners who were transferred over from Mauthausen Concentration Camp had to work on the restoration of the railway tracks in Amstetten. As the “switching station” in Amstetten was strategically important, the area around Amstetten train station was also targeted during the major attacks on 15 and on 25 December 1944, and on 15 February 1945. Two days after the first prisoners arrived at Amstetten Subcamp, another air raid by the allied bomber wings took place. During the attack on 20 March 1945, 500 prisoners escaped to a forest north of the railway installation. The forest where they sought shelter was, however, also hit during the bombing. A large group of female prisoners was hit especially hard: 34 women died.
The camp leader’s name is not known. Only that the camp was guarded by members of the SS and the Vienna Police.
In early April 1945, the first prisoners were transferred back to Mauthausen Stalag. On 18 April 1945, Amstetten Subcamp was shut down for good and the remaining prisoners (approx. 1,500) were also deported back to Mauthausen.
Commemoration and remembrance
In the 1970s, a wayside shrine was put up in the Eisenreichdornach neighbourhood to commemorate the prisoners who died during the air raid. There is an annual memorial service at the shrine with a wreath-laying ceremony, organised by a local initiative in cooperation with the MKÖ. The exact date is published at the beginning of each year and can be found here .