NAZI Concentration Camps: Gunskirchen Lager (Austria, 1944?-May 1945)

Gunskirchen Lager
Figure 1.--The SS as part of the Holocaust targeted Jewish children. They were among the first to be killed when they arrived at the death camps. There were few children found as the advancing Allied armies liberated the concentration camps. And this was the case with the American GIs who first reached Gunskirchen Lager. These small children were found bythe GIs. We have no idea just how they managed to survive. Note the pine needles scattered on the floor for warmth. It is possible they are Yugoslav children rounded up in the anti-partisan campaigns, but availablre information specifies that they were Jews.

Gunskirchen Lager was one of the hundreds of concentration camps set up by the SS and German allies throughout NAZI-occupied Europe. Some are very well known because of the enormities of the attrocities committed there. Other were small camps set up for only short periods. This appears to have been the case of Gunskirchen Lager. It was located near the towns of towns of Lambach and Wels. We have been unable to find much information about the camp. Most of what we have learned is what the American GI's found when they arrived in the closing days of the War. The Camp (Lager) was not equipped to actively kill people in large numbers. Rather it was just a cluster of crude shacks surronded by barbed wure. The shacks were made of 19" slats with the outer bark showing--meaning the cheapest lumber was used. We are not sure when the camp was opened, probably in 1944 as the Third Reich was collapsing. As the Allied armies advanced, the SS shot many inmates still clinging to life in the camps before abandoning them. The healthiest prisoners were forced marched back to the Reich in appauling conditions with little or no food. Gunskirchen seems to be one of the camps that these survivors were intened for apparently no other purpose than to starve. The SS wanted as few live Jewish prisoners to fall into Allied hands as possible. Here they died in large numbers as a result of starvation. The inmates were aapparently all Jews from Yugoslavia, Chezkoslovakia, Bulgaria and elesewhere in the Balkans. The American 71st Infantry Division liberated the camp (May 4, 1945). They found dead bodies littering the camp along with 15,000-20,000 starving inmates. The American GI's that liberated the camp left shocking accounts of what they found behind the barbed wire.


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Created: 7:04 PM 8/29/2010
Last updated: 6:41 PM 9/9/2011