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Adam Cyra, Historical Research Section, Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum / 2004/07/16, 09:53
Mauthausen Concentration Camp Records in the Auschwitz Museum Archives
Previously anonymous Auschwitz prisoners identified

Personal file of Aleksander Feczko, prisoner of Auschwitz and Mauthausen concentration camps

May 9 marked the 59th anniversary of the liberation of Mauthausen Concentration Camp by the US Army. About 200,000 people were imprisoned in Mauthausen and its several dozen sub-camps during the Second World War. Among them were some 50,000 Poles, mostly in Gusen, the largest of the sub-camps. The majority of them perished.

Today, few people know that the Mauthausen prisoner card file and other records from the camp, occupying 11 meters of shelf space, have been in the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum Archives for 50 years.

For unknown reasons, the documents were taken to Łódż, Poland, immediately after the war and stored in the apartment belonging to the family of the lawyer Henryk Kurna-towski, a former Mauthausen prisoner who died in Warsaw in the second half of 1953.

An exchange of correspondence after Kurnatowski’s death among the Main Commis-sion for the Investigation of Nazi Crimes in Poland, the Polish ministry of culture and art, and the Auschwitz State Museum, led to the transfer of the records from Łódź to Oświęcim in January 1954.

They have been meticulously maintained ever since in the Museum archival collec-tions. The prisoner card file and other Mauthausen records are still in very good shape, but have never been thoroughly studied or entered into a digital data base, despite the fact that this would be of enormous use to historical research on the tragic fate of the Mauthausen prisoners who, in many cases, had previously been prisoners of Auschwitz Concentration Camp.

Four original Mauthausen card files contain information on prisoners.

  • The Arbeitseinsatz or labor department file is undoubtedly the most interesting. It refers ex-clusively to Poles and Polish Jews who were alive during the last month of the war. The en-tries include the prisoners’ camp numbers, names, dates and places of birth, marital status, children, addresses, religious denominations, wives’ addresses, dates of arrest, reasons for imprisonment, distinguishing marks, occupations, and work assignments in the camp.
  • The Schreibsztuba or camp office files containing 62,553 files on prisoners of various na-tionalities and reflecting the camp population during the final week before liberation.
  • The Standesamt or civil registry file containing 5,393 death certificates for Mauthausen prisoners who died between 1939 and 1943.
  • A file of some 1,500 chronologically arranged cards containing information on 3,000 women Mauthausen prisoners of various nationalities, listing their nationalities, camp num-bers, names, dates and places of birth, occupations, and transport dates.

Additionally, the Veränderungsmeldung, or record of all changes in the number of prisoners in the camp, is a typescript f several thousand pages. The archives also hold a card file and list of all Poles who died in the camp, drawn up by Henryk Kurnatowski. There are various documents drawn up after liberation, such as interviews with former prisoners, lists of Jews who survived Mauthausen, and a list in Polish of Dutch prisoners who perished there.

Historians barely know about the existence of these documents and have made little use of them. I would also venture to state that these records are known to few of the living survivors of Mauthausen or its sub-camps, including the largest of them, Gusen.

The staff of the archival computer section in the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum are now compiling a list of names of Mauthausen prisoners on the basis of these records. The files will also be scanned so that facsimiles can be included along with the index. This will help to make the material more accessible to historians and others interested in information about this unique collection of camp records, which are relevant in connection with not only Mauthausen prisoners, but also those of Auschwitz.

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