Why Summarize?

 

Holocaust History students at Pima Community College wanted to cooperate with the local residents of St. Georgen an der Gusen, Langenstein, and Lungitz, Austria, and with the international community of Gusen survivors, in providing documentation of the history of KZ Gusen I, II, and III. The students took on the project of summarizing the Dachau trial transcript for USA v Schuettauf et al.  in the interest of making the history more available to both scholars and interested readers. Mindful that some people might not be able to open electronic files easily, we wanted to guide them to specific pages to facilitate their research.

 

A criminal trial necessarily focuses on the perpetrator’s actions. The charges are the primary focus of the narratives constructed through courtroom dialogue. Although our summaries also found these stories, we discovered previously untold stories and details about the lives of survivors and victims, as well.

 

We hope that these stories help familiarize readers new to the Gusen camps' history with this “terrain.” Unlike concentration camps in remote areas, KZ Gusen I and II were built in the municipalities of Langenstein and St. Georgen in order to perform murder through labor in the Kastenhof and Gusen quarries and, later, in underground armament factories dug out of the mountains by slave labor. Thus, local geology, ecology, and urban infrastructure became instruments of terror and murder, as well. The experience of the thousands of inmates murdered on this landscape can be lost when one is puzzling over where the Oberbruch Quarry was in relation to the Gusen Quarry or the Bergkristall tunnel system.

 

The importance of the terrain to inmates’ experiences can be seen in the discussion of the presence or absence of water in the Kastenhof Quarry, key to Kowalksi’s claim that SS Sergeant Heisig froze prisoners to death in January 1944 by pouring water over them (Schuettauf 33). SS Sergeant Heisig insists that the mountain streams running through the Kastenhof Quarry were covered over. The lack of water becomes evidence of his innocence. The nearest water, he explains, was outside the protective security camp near the SS Barracks (Schuettauf 473), water which was, and is still, part of the infrastructure of the community of Langenstein.

 

Much of the water for these communities still flows through the landscape of these stories. We are humbled by the memory of those who longed to quench their awful thirst throughout the summers and winters from 1939 to 1945. In their memory, we offer this cup.

 

In Memoriam

Fjodor Stepanowitsch Solodovnik

Born October 25, 1925 near Charkow, Russia

Died December 23, 2005 Moscow

 

 

Fjodor Solodovnik with his arm around his fellow Gusen I survivor Dr. Pierre Serge Choumoff at the 1999 KZ Gusen Commemoration, Langenstein, Austria