April 28, 2012 Mauthausen, Linz and Ansfelden, Austria

KZ Mauthausen

Somehow winter has morphed directly into summer in the past two days. Today the temperatures climb to 28 C (that’s 82 F!) We say nashledanou to the Czech Republic and make our way to Austria.

Today we visit the Mauthausen Concentration Camp. John and I have been to it before but it is a place that everyone needs to see. The horror that happened here is almost incomprehensible. This was not just a place for killing Jews. It contained criminals, political prisoners, Soviet POWs, gypsies, religious dissidents, gays, and Jews – any man, woman or child deemed by the Reich undeserving of existence.

There is an audio tour. For hours we look at and listen to this place of death. It is actually small by comparison to other camps. This is a slave labor camp until almost the end of the war. People come here to be worked to death. They are starved or shot or electrocuted or gassed. Approximately 100,000 people were killed here. About half of them in the last 18 months before the end of the war as inmates from camps further east were shipped to Mauthausen as the Russians advanced.

While being at the Pinkas Synagogue in Prague made us weep, this place just leaves us stunned.

Approach to Mauthausen Concentration Camp

Barracks and roll call yard

The rest of the day

Somehow it seems inappropriate to post what we do the rest of the day but I’ve already uploaded the pictures so I’ll go on.

Leaving Mauthausen we travel the short distance into Linz. It is around 2 PM and if we don’t find lunch soon we will be out of luck. In many places in Europe, restaurants open for lunch close at 2 PM.

We happen to stumble across the vegetarian restaurant, P’aa, in the old section of Linz. There we have one of the best meals we’ve had on our trip. Sarah feels this is because it gives us a taste of home. We start with the local beer and then have an array of Mexican, Thai and Indian dishes. It is really, really good.

My Thai curry
Sarah's stuffed tortilla
John's "Trip to India"

After lunch we walk around a bit and then head to our pension, Herzog zu Laah, in nearby Ansfelden. This place is great. The owners, Christian and Margaret Langmayr, go out of their way to make us feel welcome. Margaret has baked a cake and we are invited to have some with tea or coffee or anything out of the mini-bar.

We need to wash up and decompress. We go to our rooms and meet later on for tea. We are not eating dinner tonight. We sit and talk. Herr Langmayr talks with Sarah and me. We say our few German words and he says what English he knows. It is all very congenial. We have been in more upscale hotels on this trip but the Herzog zu Laah with its lovely hosts, cute rooms, and the sounds of children playing outside our open windows has to be among the best.

Herzog zu Laah
Jesus is in the front yard
along with a blue lamb

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