Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp was the hub of a large group of German concentration camps that was built around the villages of Mauthausen and Sankt Georgen an der Gusen in Upper Austria. The camp operated from the time of the Anschluss, when Austria was annexed into the German Third Reich in early 1938, to the beginning of May 1945, at the end of the Second World War. Starting with a single camp at Mauthausen, the complex expanded over time and by the summer of 1940 Mauthausen had become one of the largest labour camp complexes in the German-controlled part of Europe, with four main subcamps at Mauthausen and nearby Gusen, and nearly 100 other subcamps located throughout Austria and southern Germany, directed from a central office at Mauthausen.
As at other Nazi concentration camps, the inmates at Mauthausen-Gusen were forced to work as slave labour, under conditions that caused many deaths. The subcamps of the Mauthausen complex included quarries, munitions factories, mines, arms factories and plants assembling Me 262 fighter aircraft. In January 1945, the camps contained roughly 85,000 inmates. The death toll remains unknown, although most sources place it between 122,766 and 320,000 for the entire complex.
The Mauthausen-Gusen camp was one of the first massive concentration camp complexes in Nazi Germany, and the last to be liberated by the Allies. The two main camps, Mauthausen and Gusen I, were labelled as 'Grade III' (Stufe III) camps, which meant that they were intended to be the toughest camps for the 'Incorrigible political enemies of the Reich'. Unlike many other concentration camps, which were intended for all categories of prisoners, Mauthausen was mostly used for extermination through labour of the intelligentsia – educated people and members of the higher social classes in countries subjugated by the Nazi regime during World War II. The main camp of the complex in Mauthausen is now a museum.
Mauthausen was declared a national memorial site in 1949. The main camp of the complex in Mauthausen is now a museum. The site remains largely intact, but much of what constituted the subcamps of Gusen I, II and III is now covered by residential areas built after the war.References:
German crusaders known as the Livonian Brothers of the Sword began construction of the Cēsis castle (Wenden) near the hill fort in 1209. When the castle was enlarged and fortified, it served as the residence for the Order's Master from 1237 till 1561, with periodic interruptions. Its ruins are some of the most majestic castle ruins in the Baltic states. Once the most important castle of the Livonian Order, it was the official residence for the masters of the order.
In 1577, during the Livonian War, the garrison destroyed the castle to prevent it from falling into the control of Ivan the Terrible, who was decisively defeated in the Battle of Wenden (1578).
In 1598 it was incorporated into the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and Wenden Voivodship was created here. In 1620 Wenden was conquered by Sweden. It was rebuilt afterwards, but was destroyed again in 1703 during the Great Northern War by the Russian army and left in a ruined state. Already from the end of the 16th century, the premises of the Order's castle were adjusted to the requirements of the Cēsis Castle estate. When in 1777 the Cēsis Castle estate was obtained by Count Carl Sievers, he had his new residence house built on the site of the eastern block of the castle, joining its end wall with the fortification tower.
Since 1949, the Cēsis History Museum has been located in this New Castle of the Cēsis Castle estate. The front yard of the New Castle is enclosed by a granary and a stable-coach house, which now houses the Exhibition Hall of the Museum. Beside the granary there is the oldest brewery in Latvia, Cēsu alus darītava, which was built in 1878 during the later Count Sievers' time, but its origins date back to the period of the Livonian Order. Further on, the Cēsis Castle park is situated, which was laid out in 1812. The park has the romantic characteristic of that time, with its winding footpaths, exotic plants, and the waters of the pond reflecting the castle's ruins. Nowadays also one of the towers is open for tourists.