According to this AP news story, a guard from Austria’s Mauthausen concentration camp was arrested today in Michigan. It is rather ironic that the Europe’s war against its Jewish citizens is still a matter of public interest and debate here in the U.S. considering that for most Europeans it is history as ancient and irrelevant as the Roman Republic. The story reminded me of a trip to Austria in May 2002. Austrians would ask where I’d been thus far. I’d reply “Salzburg, Mauthausen, biking down the Donau”. Oftentimes their immediate response was “We had no idea that camp was there.”
Mauthausen has been turned into a very informative museum and one of the interpretive signs is a map showing the dozens of factories within a radius of about 60 miles to which thousands of Mauthausen inmates were dispatched to work alongside ordinary Austrians. If the Austrians were indeed unaware of the existence of the camp they must have thought it was strange that some of their fellow workers were so shabbily dressed and getting thinner every day until finally they didn’t show up.