Discreet brown signs in German situated by the main road winding through the bucolic Austrian alpine town of Ebensee are easy to miss. Not many non-German speakers understand what is hidden behind “KZ-Gedenkstatte Ebensee”. We have driven through this town at the shores of the stunning lake of Traunsee many times and never noticed them. Only on a recent rainy day I noticed and decided to explore. I did vaguely know that KZ stands for Concentration camp. The brown signs took us through a labyrinth of narrow streets in a quaint Ebensee residential area to a little parking lot next to a playground situated next to a stone wall and a large area shaded by tall trees. I went to explore together with my 11 year old son. As we passed through the gate in the stone wall a vast area opened up before us. The mass grave and memorial to 8412 prisoners worked to death and murdered in the Ebensee Concentration Camp, one of the worst Nazi concentration camp which was part of the Mathausen network. My son and I read plaques telling horrific history of the camp and its slave laborers of whom 20 000 who were starved and tortured to death while digging enormous underground tunnels in the nearby mountain originally intended to hide the German Peenemunde V2-rockets. After the war the Ebensee community used the land of the former concentration camp for residential development. It took more than 50 years to establish an official memorial a museum to this horrific past. There are two sites to visit. The mass grave and the underground tunnels. It is not easy to find but for those who care worth the effort.
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