The gas chamber of Mauthausen - History and testimonies of the Italian deportees
A Brief history of the campSeveral months after the Anschluss, that is, the forced unification of Austria to Germany realized in March 1938, three hundred prisoners were transferred from Dachau to Mauthausen. It is the 8th of August, and accompanied by circa eighty SS, they cross the charming Austrian village that lies beside the banks of the Danube, approximately twenty kilometers away from Linz in the direction of Vienna. They slowly climb the hill, followed by the fearful staring of the town’s inhabitants. The oldest ones remember that already during the First World War, at the same spot, in the surroundings of Mauthausen, a concentration camp for Italian prisoners of war was erected. Now, though, the 300 prisoners are there to construct a concentration camp, which already in 1941 had earned the status of Category III. Heydrich, when classifying the various Nazi camps inserted this camp – and it was destined to become the only one – as entering in the class of the most severe, reserved for those of the political opposition, and considered incapable of being "reeducated". In substance, they were destined to death (1). Mauthausen hasn’t been chosen by mere chance, and certainly not for its natural beauty. From the stone quarries located there, it is possible to extract the granite that in the past had embellished the streets and buildings of the Austro-Hungarian empire, and that now would be put to the service of the Grand Reich. The quarries are principally a major economic affair for the DEST (Deutsche Erd und Steinwerke GmbH), a company owned by the central Economic-Administrative Office of the SS, run by Oswald Pohl. As in other concentration camps, Mauthausen (Mauthause in German means toll barrier) is located in a strategic position, at a crossroad for both the river and the railroad, easily accessible, and optimum for the transport of both persons and blocks of granite. The work for the construction of the camp continues until late summer of 1939 when there are roughly 3 thousand prisoners, including those of the political opposition, "a-socials" gypsies, Jehovah’s Witnesses, common criminals, etc. From the beginning of the war, its population begins to systematically grow with the arrival of thousands of deportees from the occupied territories, while many of the 49 sub-camps that covered the Austrian territory have already entered into their function. Some, Gusen, for example, (the first to start its activity in May 1940) or Ebensee, will reach dimensions that are even greater than the central camp of Mauthausen. In this last camp the number of matriculation will surpass 20,000 at such an early date as 1942, but it is to bear in mind that in that same year, one counts more than 14 thousand dead. In 1943, the number of prisoners at Mauthausen and Gusen reach 26 thousand, arriving at 45 thousand in 1945, year in which the entire system of sub-camps connected with Mauthausen surpasses the sum of 84 thousand persons (counting the central camp). According to the most prudent calculation, in the camp of Mauthausen 120 thousand persons were killed, of which 38 thousand were Jews. The systematic and deliberate extermination by hunger, disease, mass assassinations, is accompanied by the brutality of the conditions in which the deportees are forced to work in the quarries of Mauthausen. The stones that are extracted and leveled have to be carried over the shoulders along 186 steep steps, whose side and pinnacle are guarded by the SS who shove, beat and torture the men who move with difficulty. It has acquired the name "stairway of death", while the overhang of the quarry is called "wall of the parachute jumpers" because the jailers, as supreme merrymaking, occasionally shove the first men in line, who, while falling, inadvertently bring other men down with them causing continual massacres. But the deportees are killed on a daily level also by a blow on the head in the bunker, or by being thrown onto the fencing that has a current of 380 volts running through it, or exterminated by the trucks making the trip between Gusen and Mauthausen innumerable times and that are devised to gas them to death, in the gas chambers at Hartheim and Mauthausen itself. The crematoriums are always functioning at full capacity. The communiqué of Pohl dated April of 1942 – that responds to the German necessity to increment the production of war materials and that translates into the parallel objective of "extermination by overwork" – is applied at Mauthausen and it sub-camps from June 1943 onwards. While at Gusen the excavation of new tunnels where it is in the planning to produce the Aggregat 4 missiles, more commonly known as V2 missiles (Vergeltungswaffe), the majority of the prisoners are working not only for the DEST, but also for various other private factories, such as the Heinkel-Werke, the Messerschmitt, and the Steyr-Daimler-Puch. The terrible working and living conditions are met in the summer of 1943 with the air bombardments of the allied forces that have reached Austria. During the course of the war Mauthausen aggregates deportees from all of the occupied territories, and in the last period, its situation takes on an even more dramatic turn. It is to this camp, with the Soviet forces advancing at the eastern front, that in the winter of 1944-45, the long and mortal marches of evacuation of prisoners from other camps are directed. They come from the farthest Polish concentration camps (from January to May 1945, for example, approximately nine thousand deportees, principally Jews, arrive from Auschwitz). Women and children from Ravensbrück, men from Sachsenhausen, Hungarian Jews come to fill up the Mauthausen Lager beyond capacity, bringing forth the erection of fourteen tents in which the prisoners are held, forced to sleep in the mud, decimated by dysentery and by typhus. Thousands more men, women and children are killed in the evacuation marches. At the start of 1945, the escape of the 495 Soviet officials from Block 20 - known as the "Block of Death" - must be considered without doubt among the most tragic events in the last phase of the concentration camp. They were for the most part survivors of a group of 4,700 Russians imprisoned in March 1944. Closed in the only block that was fenced, the Soviets were forced to endure endless and fatiguing roll calls, to sleep on the bare pavement of the barrack that was beforehand willfully flooded during the winter and they were sealed up shut inside without water during the summer. Practically without food, they died at the rate of ten a day. Those few who had some remnant of strength the night of the 2nd of February managed to escape. It wasn’t only the SS who followed them for the countryside surrounding Mauthausen, but a good portion of the local population volunteered its services to participate in that which has come to be remembered as the "rabbit hunt". In the space of 24 hours, there were more than 300 officials captured, of which only 50 or so were still living. Only a dozen survived this fugue. The 5th of May 1945 at noon, two tanks directed by the American commanding officer Albert J. Koziek arrived at the concentration camp. The SS fled; the commanding officer Franz Ziereis hid in the countryside where he was discovered and mortally wounded, dying twenty days later; the majority of the camp’s documentation was destroyed. It is the delegate of the International Red Cross who meets the allied official. The Spaniards raise a red flag over the gateway, to be replaced by a flag of the Republic of Spain. The gas truck, Hartheim, Gusen It has been written that "among the concentration camps that can be defined in the strict sense as extermination camps, Mauthausen is a case in particular: more prisoners have been killed there than in any other concentration camp, whether one makes reference to the principal camp or the sub-camp of Gusen, or whether one considers the gas truck that made a run between Mauthausen and Gusen"(2). In fact, there were many ways to kill at Mauthausen, other than the "natural" deaths caused by hunger and exhaustion: a shot at the back of the neck in Barrack 20, designed especially with this task in mind; the "raspberry hunt", or in other words, the execution by the sentinels who shot those "attempting to escape" after having obligated the prisoners to cross the confines of the camp, commanding them to search for raspberries; the showers with ice water that caused heart attacks or pulmonary illness; the torture. Gas, too, had a fundamental role in the extermination perpetrated at Mauthausen and there were four methods in which it was utilized: the gas truck, the gas chamber in the Castle of Hartheim, the gassing in the barracks of Gusen, the gas chamber at Mauthausen. From the autumn of 1941 until the end of summer 1942, a number that varies between 900 and 2,800 prisoners (3) were killed with the "gas truck" that ran the distance of five kilometers, alternating between Mauthausen and Gusen. Parked in the central plaza of the principal camp, each time, the truck loaded thirty victims, who were cramped into the fully sealed rear portion of the vehicle. They suffocated to death by the carbon monoxide that was pumped into the interior of the vehicle. Once arrived at Gusen, the victims were taken out of the truck, their bodies ready to be cremated, and the truck went the way it came, loaded with thirty new victims who would suffer the same fate, this time in the direction of Mauthausen (4). The truck was probably devised by the pharmacist SS-Hauptsturmführer Erich Wassitzky: - Do you remember a special vehicle that ran between Mauthausen and Gusen, in which the prisoners were gassed during the trip? - Yes, the commanding officer came personally with this vehicle. Wasicki (5) put the gas in. - How many people could it contain? - Twenty or thirty. - Did this vehicle belong to the SS-Hauptsturmführer Wasicki? - It was just like a police vehicle, but it was hermetically sealed, though. - Did Ziereis drive it? - Yes, I myself saw him (6). The gas (tanks with carbon monoxide) was also utilized in the Castle of Hartheim, one of the six centers for Euthanasia, the operation with which Nazism intended to eliminate "lives not worthy of being lived". Begun in September 1939, Operation Euthanasia was suspended in August 1941 due to the protests roused by the population: the Austrian castle was in any case prepared and willing to continue with its tragic duty. Already in May 1941 the first prisoners were selected from Gusen, the same operation was undertaken at Mauthausen one or two months later. The victims were conducted in the gas chamber masqueraded as a shower: "This room had the dimensions of 6.60 meters by 4.20 meters. The pavement, which was originally made from wooden beams, was cemented over and then covered with red tiles. There were also tiles on the walls, up to the height of circa 1.70 meters. In the center of the ceiling, there was the water tube, with three spouts. Along three of the walls, on the floor, there was a tube with many holes (15 mm in diameter). These tubes released the mortal gas emanated from a steel tank that was housed in the adjacent room. A doctor controlled the entire procedure" (7). As one of those assigned to executing the extermination in the Castle of Hartheim has given testimony; its purpose " was among other things, that of gassing and killing those prisoners who couldn’t be killed in the camp of Mauthausen." (8). If the victims of Operation Euthanasia exclusively in the castle were 18,269, the deportees of Mauthausen and Gusen that were gassed between 1942 and 1944 surpasses the number of 8 thousand (9). According to Italo Tibaldi’s calculations, there were 303 Italians killed in the Castle of Hartheim (10). The recollection of Stefano Barbera – whose memory probably mixes the gas truck with the blue truck that had windows that were sealed and darkened and which conducted the prisoners to the Castle of Hartheim – is nevertheless precise: "[…] then how one came to know that… they came to take the invalids from the block, when they got to a certain number of …of …of persons, what they did, they came with those trucks, those vans, they loaded them aboard and told them that they were being taken to another camp to be cured and instead, along the way they opened, they opened I don’t know what sort of gas and they made them die when they took them to that other camp and there, there, there, they burned them." (11). A third method in which the Nazis used the gas was in the barracks number 16 and 31 of Gusen. The 2nd of March 1942 a group of 164 Soviet prisoners, unable to work, were gassed with Zyklon-B inside barrack 16. It is likewise probable that another 300 prisoners of varying nationalities had suffered the same fate that day. The method utilized was that of making the prisoners enter the barrack immediately following the saturation of the barrack with Zyklon-B, operated by a worker of the firm itself. The barrack was then sealed and for the prisoners there was no hope of surviving. An analogous system was used in the second documented gassing, which occurred in April 1945 at Gusen. Directly requested by the commanding officer of the camp, the SS-Hauptsturmführer Fritz Seidler, it involved a number of prisoners that was between 684 and 892 (divided between sick men and those unable to work) (12). The gas chamber of Mauthausen Its construction was begun in the autumn of 1941 and terminated probably in March 1942, the gas chamber of Mauthausen was located in the basement of the new infirmary, with the crematory in the same place (13). In this way – combined with the operations of extermination – as Hans Marsalek describes it: "This room, 3.70 meters long, 3.50 meters wide, partially lined with tiles, was set us as if it were a shower complete with 16 water spouts. The heating and the illumination were on one wall, above the tiles in a corner of the room there was an electric ventilator and an enameled tube that was around one meter long. This tube had, in the part facing the wall, and therefore not visible, a hole that was a half-centimeter wide and 80 centimeters long and it was attached to the gas recipient that was in the adjacent cell. The switches for light, water and the ventilator were all located outside of the gas chamber. A brick, heated up in advance, was placed upon a shovel and made to rest in the bottom of the recipient. An SS, wearing a gas mask, poured the Zyklon-B gas over the brick and the container was immediately closed and hermetically sealed with two lateral screws. The heat that the brick sent forth caused the gas to rapidly leave the container" (14). Ziereis further declared that the gas chamber was constructed using the dispositions of the SS-Gruppenführer Richard Glücks and under the command of the camp doctor the SS-Hautptsturmführer Eduard Krebsbach, who had negated every responsibility (15): "By order of the commanding officer Ziereis, the pharmacist Doctor Wasicky designed and installed a gas chamber. It was Wasicky himself who guarded the gas to be used, and he was the one who brought it into the chamber and effectuated the gassings." (16). The gas chamber could contain from 30 to 80 persons (17) and the operations of asphyxiation lasted approximately thirty minutes. The entire operation for every group of victims (transport to the gas chamber, undressing, "medical visit", killing, transport of the cadavers to the crematory ovens) took about two to three hours. It is probable that the first to be killed were 231 Soviet war prisoners on the 9th of May 1942; the last were 33 Austrians, 5 Poles, 5 Croatians, and 1 Austrian of English nationality on the 28th of April, 1945. All together, 4 thousand people were assassinated in the gas chamber (18). It should be remembered that another structure for mass killings of Mauthausen prisoners was planned in the autumn of 1944. Some parts of the ventilation mechanism of the demolished gas chamber of Auschwitz were transported to Altaist-Harteil, near the Austrian camp, but the work was never brought to completion. Nearing the last and most dramatic phase of the camp, the Italians soon came to know of the existence of the gas chamber: "We knew that it existed - Ferruccio Maruffi recalls - because we knew that there really was a gas chamber and that there maybe some executions took place, but, as you know, with the rumors that run around in a camp, but you have no way of really knowing. There was talk of it, that there had been…there was talk of its existence and it certainly was used less at Mauthausen… that is, it definitely did run in that period, at the end of April, but how often it was used and in what period it was in function, that I can’t say with precision."(19). Or in the words of Bruno Simioli: "and yes, we already knew, we knew a while beforehand. Not right away, but… later we knew because they had spoken of it… the older ones, the ones who had been there for a while…" (20). There is eve one who remembers, as does Carlo Podestà, that the gas chamber was an explicit threat: "You ask if we knew? Of course we did! They were the ones that told us! Every once in a while they would say, "You won’t work? Gas chamber for you! Off you go!" We knew all too well. Of course we knew" (21). In the minds of the prisoners, the reasons for its existence seemed to differ, but effectively they were clear to all. According to Francesco Albertin: "As punishment, the gas chamber was reserved only for who was no longer able to work, an unproductive mouth to feed" (22). In the gas chamber, according to Enzo Comazzi, "they sent the old ones, the sick, the disabled women" (23). At any rate, for the Italians, the gas chamber at Mauthausen means principally the extermination of 1200-1400 individuals in the month of April 1945. Of the tone of those days, Piero Caleffi has left a vivid testimony: "Concerning that which occurred, what Mauthausen represented in that frightening April, the memory has only harbored visions populated with faces that conserved nothing of their precedent aspect, of bodies that had nothing vital to them if not the slow movements of the moribund, facts and words are suspended in time, as if they have no link to any other present or future reality. […] In those days there wasn’t any personal tragedy, there were no deaths of men, because there was no longer any lives of men. It was a collective tragedy, a gigantic tragedy of forty thousand creatures, for the most part amassed in camp 2, in camp 3 and in the "Russian camp", who held onto a shadow of life, driven by animal instinct, but who by now had abandoned the vestige of living, in ever greater numbers, to the dissolution of themselves, before they were dead" (24). From the start of the month, the offices of the Gestapo at Graz, Vienna, Iglau, Brünn, St. Pölten and Linz sent 1,200 prisoners to the central camp, where they were to be killed in the space of twenty-four hours (25). The 20th of April, while Hitler was celebrating his final birthday, the doctor at Mauthausen, SS Waldemar Walter asked that 3,000 seriously ill prisoners should be transferred from the infirmary of Lager III so that space could be made for other prisoners. In reality, it was so that they could be gassed. The order was sabotaged by the clandestine organization in which Giuliano Pajetta played a central role (26). "… and I managed to meet my father, because they sent him from Gusen, they sent him to Mauthausen, and he was there, in the infirmary…the day I met with him, he was in another block, I was in block two and I can’t recall anymore if he was perhaps in block eight, the infirmary block, we agreed to meet the next day… the next day, the morning of the next day they sent me down to the camp to carry stones, and we hauled the stones from Lager three, to carry them to an external pile, to where they were doing road work… and, this was around the 20th of April, and I felt like, that is, I went with determination to, to, to Pajetta to say that my father was there… and I went to Pajetta and I said to him: "see if you can do something, my father is there in lager three…" and we knew that they were in waiting there, to be sent to the gas chamber… my father was really there, and he was taken out by making him pass for a Frenchman… since the French had already been liberated and De Gaulle had gotten the attention of the International Red Cross of Geneva, got them to be interested in the French, and in fact, just outside the camp there was the group of the International Red Cross that wasn’t permitted to enter the camp, but the French were made to look like they were fine, they gave them new clothes, they let them get back to France, through Switzerland. My father was taken out of lager three, as were other Italians, by making them pass for Frenchmen, and they sent him down into the Revier (Infirmary) […] (27). Many people had been saved thanks to the acts of single individuals: "I told you before about this Carrara – thus spoke Giuseppe Calore in his conversation with Bruno Vasari and Ada Buffulini – and then of Tino Ceriano who was at that time very young, he too was less than twenty, and I pulled him out just like that, I don’t know with what criteria, throwing myself practically between the legs of the SS that lined both sides of the marchers, and I dragged him out. Then I tried to convince an older man, an engineer of the Breda that had been taken, and tried to convince him that for them it was not a liberation, that the entire thing seemed too odd, to hide themselves and not to leave"(28). In spite of all of the efforts and taking into account the large number of prisoners saved from a certain death, 1,500 sick persons were at any rate transferred and 650 of them were gassed between the 22nd and the 25th of April. The 29th of April the apparatus of the gas chamber was dismantled and the room was camouflaged as a bathroom (29). The prisoners who were forced to "work" at the crematorium and at the gas chamber were executed, but a few managed to hide and save their lives. As Terenzio Magliano recounts: "The gas chamber itself was a common, unadorned room without windows, with a door that had a hermetic closure. When I saw it, the Germans were taking instruments and materials away, to not leave traces of their criminality behind, but on the floor one could still see the place where the tanks were stored and where the tubes were" (30). There are numerous eyewitness accounts of these final days in the concentration camp of Mauthausen and on the toll of death that its gas chamber claimed. Serafino Bianchi: "From the barracks of the Russian camp intermittently they took one thousand…two thousand men… and brought them to the gas chamber, in the central camp […] And we were there, inside, waiting for them to open the door, knowing that on the other side, there were the gas chambers!" (31). Alberto Todros: "And in the final period, that time of waiting, where the Germans, towards… the second part of April… had practically lost the war, but they still put up resistance, the group that surrounded Mauthausen resisted up until the 8th of May, not up until armistice day, but they resisted […] they began with the elimination of the sick ones, in the camp down below, the Russian Lager, where there was the hospital, and I am one of the few witnesses. What did they do? They took groups of them, of one hundred, one hundred and fifty, they brought them up, they were larvae, they weren’t men anymore. And because they had ended up in the hospital, it could be considered that they were already dead men, they were finished. They brought them up, they gassed them and then they burned them […] For this reason… at a certain point, we saw them start to come, at one hour intervals… these deportees came up here, from the hospital, they brought them inside, where the gas chamber was. They gassed them and then, those that could be burned were burnt, and the rest were brought to the common graves" (32). Bruno Vasari: "In a dark spring sky, it wasn’t that far from the Easter of ’45, with a blanket over each one’s shoulder, this miserable procession of men made its way up the hill […] They were conducted into a block in the principal camp and they stayed there for several days and each day a certain group was called out to go firstly to the baths and then to be transported elsewhere. Furnished with a towel, they went into the gas chambers. Finally, a mission of the French Red Cross arrived to liberate all of the Frenchmen, and there were men in the block that were destined to the gas chamber who were French, and they were liberated from there too" (33). Mino Micheli, who with his testimony seems to have inspired the painting by Gino Gregori that reproduces the tragic march of the deportees towards the gas chamber: "I run to Vallardi, who speaks German, so that I can know something more precise. He says that he doesn’t know anything; but he’s being evasive, and he seems very frightened and worried. I’m still speaking with Vallardi, when someone from the region of Veneto, with only a blanket to hide his nudity, comes running towards us very excitedly. He speaks very fast, cries, begs for help, he wants to save himself, he knows the truth, he knows that they will take him to "camp 3", the antechamber of death. He begs that we do something to help him, shouts out his right to live for himself and for his family. I don’t even have a chance to calm him, to hide him, when he gets yanked from us and dragged away to join the group. Now he is silent and his entire body shakes as if an electric current runs through it, and like all of the others, he looks at us with terror in his eyes. Hundreds come out from every block. It seems like the exodus of some city of miserable souls. They can barely walk, they attempt to protect themselves against the cold as best they can, some have a blanket, others are entirely naked or have only a shirt or only underpants. They gather them together in the open air. There are thousands of them. They don’t speak; many seem in a catatonic state, apparently insensible to anything anymore, others are scared or serious. Upon observing this mass of humanity, I want to shout. They are silent because they no longer have words to express the terror they are undergoing, to define the crime that is being committed against them" (34). Perhaps among all of the eyewitness accounts, the most touching is that of Sergio Coalova: "We had to re-do the roadbed near the gas chamber and it was there that Faurisson was saying that the gas chamber didn’t even exist…Two SS were supervising us, and every time that a column of deportees headed towards the gas chamber reached our point these two hired assassins grabbed their weapons and planted themselves firmly between us and the column, to impede us making any contact. It was a horrible sight to see… and it repeated itself almost every hour, with a hundred or so skeletal beings that entered the gateway, escorted by a pair of SS, and who were headed in our direction. Headed towards those of us... intent upon... we are working very hard. They hesitate for an instant, while they are waiting for the door to be opened and then they march in docilely and unknowing in the corridors that lead to the gas chamber. We know what is waiting for them and we feel shocked and terrified and… by the cy… terrified by the cynical cruelty of a mass of criminals that never ceases to practice homicide and who do it with a naturalness that by this time can only be folly. Now they open, and they begin to disappear; the most pathetically destroyed subjects and men and boys that can only weigh thirty or so kilograms. Skeletons that are wrapped in a veil of flaccid skin and faces with dull stares that focus upon the void, any will is absent from them, and they haven’t the vaguest notion of what is about to happen to themselves. We think that tomorrow may be our turn, and even if we are reduced to a pitiful state, we have had the fortune to tolerate deprivations that are less cruel. Today we are still around because we had enough strength to be able to work. We are intent upon repairing a piece of roadbed near the fatal entrance door and while another column is approaching, an imploring voice reaches me, having noticed the letters IT on my triangle, "Italian, Italian, where are they leading us? You know, tell me, I beg of you, tell me where they’re taking us?" I feel a blow to my heart and a moment of shock, how in the world can I throw the reality in the face of that poor boy who is ignorant of his situation, of the tragic reality that is awaiting him? Must I mercifully trick him a few minutes before his end, or must I come up with the courage to… to make him aware of the tragic reality? In the meantime he continues to call out to me, "Italian, Italian, where are they taking us?", a lump in my throat prohibits me from speaking and a convulsive weeping erupts in me and…" (35).
(1) For a brief but precise reconstruction of the principal events of the camp, G.J. HORWITZ, All’ombra della morte. La vita quotidiana attorno al campo di Mauthausen, Marsilio, Venezia, 1994 and M. DE BOUARD, Mauthausen, in Le système concentrationnnaire allemand (1940-1944), special number of the "Revue d’histoire de la deuxième guerre mondiale", nos. 15-16, July-September 1954.
(2) E. KOGON, H. LANGBEIN, A. RÜCHERL, Les chambres à gaz secret d’État, Seuil, Paris, 1984, p. 222. For the "numbers" of the extermination at Mauthausen, H. MARSALEK, Mauthausen, La Pietra, Milano, 1977.
(3) G. J. HORWITZ, All’Ombra della morte, p. 32.
(4) One finds a reconstruction of the event in H. MARSALEK, Le pratiche delle operazioni effettuate nel campo di concentramento di Mauthausen per asfissiare i prigionieri, Documentazione, Vienna, 1990
(5) The name is altered several times during the interrogation.
(6) Testimony of Albert Tiefenbacher at the Nuremberg Trials, in Procès des grands criminels de guerre devant le Tribunal militaire international, 1945-1946, vol. XXXIII, document PS-3845, Nuremberg, 1949, pgs. 226-227.
(7) H. MARSALEK, Le pratiche delle operazioni effettuate nel campo di concentramento di Mauthausen, p. 24.
(8) Deposition of Vincenz Nohel, in V. and L. PAPPALETTERA, La parola agli aguzzini, Mursia, Milano, 1979, p. 148.
(9) H. MARSALEK, Le pratiche delle operazioni effettuate nel campo di concentramento di Mauthausen, p. 26 but the information is taken from P. S. CHOUMOFF, Les exterminations par gas à Hartheim, Mauthausen et Gusen, Seuil, Paris, 1988.
(10) Appendix in H. MARSALEK, Le pratiche delle operazioni effettuate nel campo di concentramento di Mauthausen, pgs. 35-41.
(11) ARCHIVIO DELLA DEPORTAZIONE PIEMONTESE (from now on ADP), testimony of Stefano Barbera, p. 15. The same overlapping of recollections can be observed also in other testimonies. "I saw the truck with the gas, one of those that took them on the famous walk, as we came to call it and where they gassed the person in the brief run of the truck" (ADP, testimony of Giovanni Aliberti, p. 55). "Even there (in the central camp) that famous blue truck used to pass by… the one without windows and so forth" (ADP, testimony of Antonio Bellina, p. 6). Also in E. FERGNANI, Un uomo a tre numeri, Speroni editori, Milano, 1945, pgs. 128-129.
(12) H. MARSALEK, Le pratiche delle operazioni effettuate nel campo di concentramento di Mauthausen, pgs. 30-31.
(13) On the crematorium of Mauthausen, J. PRESSAC, Le macchine dello sterminio. Auschwitz 1941-1945, Feltrinelli, Milano, 1994.
(14) Idem, p. 10.
(15) E. KOGON, H. LANGBEIN, A. RÜCHERL, Les chambres à gaz secret d’État, p. 223.
(16) V. and L. PAPPALETTERA, La parola agli aguzzini, p. 101.
(17) But E. LE CHÊNE, Mauthausen: The History of a Death Camp, London, 1971, p. 84, attributes a potentiality of 120 victims to the gas chambers. (in G. J. HORWITZ, All’ombra della morte, p. 242).
(18) Idem. p. 229.
(19) ADP, p. 41.
(20) ADP, p. 24.
(21) ADP, p. 13.
(22) ADP, p. 6. And again Serafino Bianchi: "And the gas chambers we knew about. We know also on account of the fact that… there was the line of people who … who … waited to use the showers and came in an came out… and they didn’t come back out though, … oh, and there was that smell, of … that odor…we knew about that." (p. 4).
(23) ADP, pgs. 45-46.
(24) P. CALEFFI, Si fa presto a dire fame, Mondadori, Milano, 1967, p. 207.
(25) H. MARSALEK, Gli ultimi giorni del campo di concentramento di Mauthausen-Gusen, in E. VINCENTI (edited by), Gli ultimi giorni dei Lager, Angeli, Milano, 1992, p. 155.
(26) G. PAJETTA, Mauthausen, Ed. Orazion Picardi, Milano, 1946, which indicates that during the last week of April at least 200 Italians were killed in the gas chamber of the camp (p. 28), the same number is also reported by B. VASARI, Mauthausen, bivacco della morte, La Giuntina, Firenze, 1991, p. 49.
(27) ADP, testimony of Afro Zanni, p. 18.
(28) A. BUFFULINI, B. VASARI, Il Revier di Mauthausen. Conversazioni con Giuseppe Calore, Dell’Orso, Alessandria, 1992, p. 37. The case of Nino Bonelli is exemplar, as recounted in G. VALENZANO, L’inferno di Mauthausen (come morirono 5000 italiani deportati), S.A.N., Torino, 1945, p. 95, and by Gaetano De Martino in ANED-SEZIONE DI MILANO, L’oblio è colpa, Milano, 1954, pgs. 6-7.
(29) H. MARSALEK, Gli ultimi giorni del campo di concentramento di Mauthausen-Gusen, p. 157.
(30) T. MAGLIANO, Mauthausen, cimitero senza croci, Odip, Torino, 1963, p. 79.
(31) ADP, p. 4.
(32) ADP, pgs. 21-22.
(33) ADP, p. 1.
(34) M. MICHELI, I vivi e i morti, Mondadori, Milano, 1967, pgs. 158-159.
(35) ADP, pgs. 16-17.