The Rock Quarry
(Wiener Graben)
 

         
     
Photo: copyright Scott Sakansky
   
Human beings labor in order to improve their lot, to enhance the quality of existence. The products of this labor usually help make things easier by creating a safer and more comfortable way of life, one that protects one's family from the elements, keeping it warm and safe. But here in the Wiener Graben in the main Austrian concentration camp Mauthausen, the only product was human suffering... and death. Before the war, stone from here was used to pave the streets of Vienna. Later, in the time of the Nazis, the stone was used to create the main camp above, with its meticulously designed, fitted, squat and lonely gray walls and towers.

SS Chief Heinrich Himmler introduced the idea of Primitivbauweise , that is, prisoners were to use only the most primitive tools, and also, whenever possible, they should work with their bare hands. Although there were gassings at Mauthausen, they never approached the magnitude of the gassings at Auschwitz. However working conditions here were more harsh. Mauthausen officials were charged with literally working prisoners to death. At no place in the camp was this more evident than in the quarry. Even Auschwitz prisoners feared transport to Mauthausen.

 
Spanish Republicans at forced labor in the quarry at Mauthausen.
Date: 1942

Photo credit: Francisco Boix Collection, USHMM Photo Archives