Ebensee (at Lake Traunsee)
The concentration camp Ebensee was established as a satellite camp of Mauthausen on November 18th, 1943 near the village of Ebensee in Upper Austria. It was one of over 40 outposts of the concentration camp Mauthausen, where prisoners had to work for the German armament industry. The aim of "Project Cement," which was the code name used by the SS, was the construction of gigantic subterranean gallery systems that were intended for the relocation of the Peenemünde missile testing station. In these tunnels, rocket research and rocket production were supposed to be safe from air raids. Because of technical problems and the urgency of other armament productions, the missile project was abandoned. In one tunnel complex an oil refinery was installed in August 1944. Other tunnels were occupied by Steyr-Daimler-Puch AG for the production of engine components for tanks and trucks in November 1944. Over 8,500 prisoners died at this camp under the Nazis. The camp was liberated and became a refugee camp under UNNRA Team 313.
Photo at left: Source: MoTI
"A DP camp in the American occupied zone of Austria, Ebensee was made up of wooden barracks. After the liberation of the Ebensee concentration camp on May 6, 1945, the area was converted into a DP camp. Ebensee consisted of four separate barracks where roughly 500 Jews were interspersed amidst a majority of Polish DPs. There was tension between the Polish and the Jewish inmates; the camp's UNRRA administration was made up entirely of Polish citizens, except one Jew. The Jewish inhabitants of the camp often complained of the administration's discrimination against them. As a result of Judah Nadich's (General Eisenhower's first advisor on Jewish affairs in Europe) investigation of the Jewish DP situation in Ebensee, the Jews were moved to hotels in Bad Gastein."
Photos Source ZGME from Klaus (click to enlarge)
Ebensee, Austria - Team 313
Polish War Memorial Unveiled, Ebensee - June 2, 1946
See also microfilm: Hans Joachim, Georg Geiger et al., July 9 - Aug. 5, 1947. Microfilm Publication M1191 (Ebensee Outcamp Case). 2 rolls. (DP) See Captured German Records page, records at NARA Maryland
Ukrainians at Ebensee:
Dying and living in Ebensee: http://www.ukrweekly.com/Archive/2002/180218.shtm
My grandfather, Bert E Fenenga, was director of the DP camp at Ebensee for UNRRA. I'm trying to find information about his experience there and have already found one contact who knew about him through your website - thank you so much. My grandfather told me about UNRRA and the camps when I was 12. At the time it made no sense to me - weren't we there to relieve people from camps, after all? When I was in my 20's, I began to want to put it all together and so found a library book that told a very similar story to what I had already heard. This book too was told from the viewpoint of an UNRRA camp director, not a camp survivor. My Story by Gemma LaGaurdia Gluck, ASIN: B0007DUREE, varies from most Holocaust books in that it is about the frustrations and trials of the UNRRA workers, instead of the greater camp population.
My grandfather, the director, was American of Fresian (now Dutch) ancestry, and the surnames of his staff who worked with him were Rommel. Willey. Hess. Cherico. Fitzrandolph. Blackhane ( sp?) Weiderman and Wimfield. None of these fit the typical pattern of Polish names, so I wonder about that statement. Bert was there from the spring of 1945 for a period of one year. He was replaced by 'acting director' James Woodrun - also not a Polish name. Perhaps the report about the nationality of the UNRRA administrators is erroneous, or did you mean those who sent the staff there? Since this was in the US Zone this does not make sense to me.
If there was great unhappiness with how the camp was run then I am glad the people were moved to better conditions if this is so - make no mistake about that. But, the problem with the camp would not have been a lack of compassion on the part of their director. It bothers me to think that erroneous or misleading information that could add to the hurt is being reported. My grandfather lost his own mother when he was 10 days old and spent his childhood passed around among various relatives for whom he earned his keep, but never really had a family to call his own. This made him the most social man I ever knew, and without a doubt, the most compassionate. His entire life was driven by a need to help others, and the only group I ever knew him to favor was children. He did not discriminate, and even made state wide headlines when he was the first man in South Dakota to invite both Anglos and Indians to his wedding.
Before his appointment to UNRRA, he ran a state reform school with a reputation for tough cases. He turned it around by teaching the boys about kindness - about hope. His philosophy was that if you give a child a positive activity their interest in negative activities will subside. He even went so far as to adopt the four toughest cases; four boys with serious criminal records, whom he and my grandmother gave what he never had - a sense of family that would never give up on them.
Nothing Bert did in his long, eventful life gave him as much pride as his efforts with UNRRA. I know he abhored the conditions, the hasty set up and poor organization. He spoke about it often. There is no doubt UNRRA was to some extent a failure, and he recognized that. But he felt enormously honored to be given the chance to *try* to help the people he felt needed it more than anyone in history. One of the things I admire about him is that he was more proud of what he worked hardest at than what he was most successful at. That is the kind of character he had.
I would hope that the people he served at Ebensee took this away with them - no matter how scantily their needs were met, the staff there (at least the director) put heart and soul into their efforts. They did the best they could with the tools they were provided, which, as you know, were heartbreakingly meager. In reading about Ebensee, I wonder how anyone could have done the job, least of all this man. . Ebensee had some of the most emaciated, sickest and most distressed of all survivors, even before they added those coming from the death march. I wonder why a person who had no previous experience with concentration camps was given this particular assignment. I can only guess it was his very naivet? and the compassion the war had not beat out of him ( he did not serve in WW2) that caused him to be sent there. If there were problems perhaps this was why?
I am not writing you this to excuse any slight on my grandfather's part, but in hopes it helps heal someone's wounds. It is horrifying to me to think of people being revictimized (I've experienced that myself, in my own life) but I've found it makes a great deal of difference to know a person's intentions were good.
Thanks again for your marvelous site. I'll visit again and send others. Laurel Parker (Atlanta, Georgia) email: firstname.lastname@example.org
3/28/07 Dear Ms. Kaczmar,
My name is Dr. Wolfgang Quatember, head of Ebensee Concentration Camp Memorial Museum. I found your site about DP camps and appreciate its information very much.
Next year we are going to create an exhibit on the two DP Camps in Salzkammergut (Ebensee and Bad Ischl).
Although we have many documentary files, there is an extreme lack of photos.
We are looking for printable photos of UNRRA Teams in DP Camps Ebensee/Bad Ischl. Photos taken by UNRRA Teams. Photos of Camp Inmates,
Camp facilities, reports of inmates/UNRRA/IRO Teams etc.
If you could help us with infos, photos, adresses, we would be very thankful.
With best regards
Conc. Camp Memorial Museum, email: email@example.com
Kirchengasse 5, A-4802 Ebensee Austria
0043 6133 5601
See USHMM website for photos: http://www.ushmm.org/museum/exhibit/online/dp/menu.htm
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