8.08.2014

Passau-Wien By Bike - Part 4: Mauthausen

The corry and the 'parachutist wall' 
This climb seems never ending, I sweat in the heat of this cloudy but muggy day. The first two hairpins were steep but in the shadow of the wood while now I'm facing a ramp straight to the top. The wheat field at my right hand side has been recently harvested and gradually the view of the valley shows up: houses, the railway, the river. Serene and cheerful. Damn I have to stop! Mariangela is still behind the corner, walking since the start of the climb. I see my son drinking from his bottle, foot down where the climb ends, the men are just in front of me, on the small gear but they are going to make it. 14% is some climb, especially on a loaded city-bike... 
Imagine: they were already starving when they had to walk all the way from the railstation till the camp, almost sure to go dieing, and not at once but day after day in that atrocious process of planned de-humanisation. They were all men in Mauthausen, no women - till very late - and no children - although some of them were just kids, 14, 16 yo.
They were 'political prisoners'-  but yeah, that says nothing - or 'marginals' - and that says a lot but not about them. They were people caught talking against - or not in favour - of the Nazism, people thinking or acting different from the Nazi's way to think and act. Some of them were Jewish - according to the old records in the local archives, in spite very often they ignored it or it didn't make any difference to their life - some of them were Sovietic soldiers who didn't get recognise their status of war prisoners. Among the 'marginals' there were omosexuals, handicappeds, mads, people without a settled home or a settled job, and among those many Gipsies - or better Rom and Sinti - who didn't refuse just the Nazism but the whole modern way of life.
They were forced to bring stones up there
They were to be eliminated because useless to the new healty society the Nazis were building. Not a society really, made of individuals, but a uniform community not allowing differences. A community for the strong ones who must dominate the world. So those men walking up the climb could cross the town escorted by the SS soldiers in the daylight, companies can be hired to supply the camp where they lived and die worse than animals and nobody felt pity seeing them working like slaves in the stone quarry just out the camp on in the area factories, side by side with 'free workers'. 
Now people living in Mauthausen don't want see, don't want to remember. Houses, farms and fields near the camp have been abandoned and the wood has grown. But they could see at that time. They even would go watching the SS Football team playing soccer against the regional league teams in the regular soccer field built next to the area of the camp where the sick prisoners were left to die. 
The planned de-humanisation didn't apply only to the prisoners but to their gaolers too and to the whole Nazi society, built on the opposition of 'We' and 'They'. "They are not like us. They are a specific group we can define and isolate.  Violence against them is not a troble for us. They are enemies and a danger. We must defend ourselves. They don't deserve our pity but our hate. They are the source of all our fears.." Exorcism. Nothing new. Nothing past. Change the names, that's a very human mechanism, that's happen everyday.
Inside the camp
I have already seen the corry. I have seen other camps - Dachau, Sachsenhausen. Here I'm going to see it again: the beastly shacks, the beastly mess, the crematory.  I could say 'we' but in front of such a thing you are left alone. Nobody can call him/her-self innocent here unless he/she is actively fighting against it. Do I? do you?
SS swimmingpool just next to the camp
I finally pushed my bike till the top. The camp stays like a fortress at the summit of a softer climb, the last one for me. And for them, but in a more sinister means. After the visit we'll ride again by the large river, toward Wien, and it's going to be 65 kms at the end of the day, when we'll get to the most beautiful rest place of the whole travel: the Gasthof s'Schatzkast in Ardagger Markt - hardly even a village. 
Rom and Sinti memorial
Sunset on the 
Stay playful!
Almost night
The inn terrace is just on the grassy river bank, gradually but decisively descending till the water, and I can't resist: taken off my shoes I lay on the grass and let me roll down. And my son after me. Wow! I took a speed! laughing like a child! The sunset is splendid. Don't let this horror prevent you to enjoy: we must be playful to keep being human. 

No comments: