This site is dedicated to the memory of Jean Bourdet, a member of the anti-Nazi underground, betrayed by his own people. He was a political prisoner, deported to KL Mauthausen. According to certain testimony, he was last seen led by the Russians to Odessa. A recent research showed he had been imprisoned before in Regina Coeli Jail, Rome, from where he was deported to Mauthahusen. His fate is unknown, his memory and his sufferings will not be forgotten!
Jean Bourdet of Blessed Memory
Email from an Italian researcher, Eugenio Iafrat,e November 7th, 2006
Hi! I'am an Italian researcher. Actually I'am doing a researcher work with A.N.E.D. (Italian Deported Association) about a train full of people, who were imprisoned in Regina Coeli Jail (Roma) and forced to leave Rome on 4 january 1944. This train arrived to Mauthausen on 13.1.1944. In that train there was a french man and I'm trying to find biographical notes about him.
His name is Jean Bourdet born in Pau (France) on the 19.02.1919. I found his German file-card into the jail and I know he arrived at the prison (Regina Coeli-Roma) on 03.01.1944 and he was deported. His number in KZ Mauthausen was: 42011. Have you got some more information about Jean Bourdet??
Thanks a lot for your attention.
The Forgotten Deportation
By Eugenio Iafrate
Personal Cards discovered by Eugenio Iafrate:
Cards found in I.T.S. Arolsen Archives (microfilms at Yad Vashem) Jan 2008. It is uncertain that the death certificate are indeed of Jean Bourdet from Pau.
Click to enlarge documents
Source: Dr. Robert Rozett and Dr. Shmuel Spector, Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, Facts on File & Yad Vashem, 2006, Page 196.
EBENSEE Sub-camp of the MAUTHAUSEN concentration camp. Located in upper AUSTRIA, Ebensee was established in November 1943 to house inmates forced to build a tunnel system in the side of a mountain that would eventually contain a rocket-research factory.
Most of the prisoners came to Ebensee from the main camp at Mauthausen or from its other subcamps. At its peak, Ebensee held 18,437 prisoners. The first Jews arrived at Ebensee in early June 1944. They were subjected to extremely cruel treatment, and as a result their mortality rate was much higher than that of the rest of the camp population. By April 1945 the overcrowding was so bad at Ebensee that more prisoners died daily than could be handled by the crematorium. That month, 4,547 prisoners out of a total population of 16,000 perished.
On April 30 the Nazis released most of the German prisoners and halted all forced labor. On May 5 the camp commandant tried to get the remaining prisoners to enter one of the mountain tunnels; they refused, and the camp staff left. On May 6 American troops liberated Ebensee, and found that same tunnel full of explosives. By refusing to enter the tunnel, the prisoners had saved themselves from being blown up by the Germans.
Altogether, about 11,000 prisoners died at Ebensee.
Prisoners at KZ Mauthausen before the process of absorption. After 1 day under these conditions: 140 dead.
Source: Eckstein, Mauthhausen - Concentration and Annnihilation Camp, Yad Vashem, Jerusalem 1985, page 64
The Granite of Mauthausen
By Fred Friendly
(May 19, 1945)
Fred Friendly wrote this letter in 1945 when he was a master sergeant with the American Army unit that liberated the Mauthausen concentration camp. He later became the executive producer of CBS Reports and served as president of CBS News for almost two years. After leaving CBS, he became a professor at Columbia University's School of Journalism.
May 19, 1945
In just a few days I will be in an airplane on my way back to the APO to which you write me. Before I leave Europe, I must write this letter and attempt to convey to you that which I saw, felt and gasped at as I saw a war and a frightened peace stagger into a perilous existence. I have seen a dead Germany. If it is not dead it is certainly ruptured beyond repair. I have seen the beer hall where the era of the inferno and hate began and as I stood there in the damp moist hall where Nazidom was spawned, I heard only the dripping of a bullet-pierced beer barrel and the ticking of a clock which had already run out the time of the bastard who made the Munich beer hall a landmark. I saw the retching vomiting of the stone and mortar which had once been listed on maps as Nurnheim, Regensberg, Munich, Frankfurt, Augusburg, Lintz, and wondered how a civilization could ever again spring from cities so utterly removed from the face of the earth by weapons the enemy taught us to use at Coventry and Canterbury. I have met the German, have examined the storm trooper, his wife and his heritage of hate, and I have learned to hate - almost with as much fury as the G.I. who saw his buddy killed at the Bulge, almost as much as the Pole from Bridgeport who lost 100 pounds at Mauthausen, Austria. I have learned now and only now that this war had to be fought. I wish I might have done more. I envy with a bottomless spirit the American soldier who may tell his grandchildren that with his hands he killed Germans.
That which is in my heart now I want you and those dear to us know and yet I find myself completely incapable of putting it into letter form. I think if I could sit down in our living room or the den at 11 President, I might be able to convey a portion of the dismal, horrible and yet titanic mural which is Europe today. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to do that for months or maybe a year, and by then the passing of time may dim the memory. Some of the senses will live just so long as I do - some of the sounds, like the dripping beer, like the firing of a Russian tommy gun, will always bring back the thought of something I may try to forget, but never will be able to do.
For example, when I go to the Boston Symphony, when I hear waves of applause, no matter what the music is, I shall be traveling back to a town near Lintz where I heard applause unequalled in history, and where I was allowed to see the ordeal which our fellow brothers and sisters of the human race have endured. To me Poland is no longer the place where Chopin composed, or where a radio station held out for three weeks - to me Poland is a place from which the prisoners of Mauthausen came. When I think of the Czechs, I will think of those who were butchered here, and that goes for the Jews, the Russians, Austrians, the people of 15 different lands, - yes, even the Germans who passsed through this Willow Run of death. This was Mauthausen. I want you to remember the word... I want you to know, I want you to never forget or let our disbelieving friends forget, that your flesh and blood saw this. This was no movie. No printed page. Your son saw this with his own eyes and in doing this aged 10 years.
Mauthausen was built with a half-million rocks which 150,000 prisoners - 18,000 was the capacity - carried up on their backs from a quarry 800 feet below. They carried it up steps so steep that a Captain and I walked it once and were winded, without a load. They carried granite and made 8 trips a day... and if they stumbled, the S.S. men pushed them into the quarry. There are 285 steps, covered with blood. They called it the steps of death. I saw the shower room (twice or three times the size of our bathroom), a chamber lined with tile and topped with sprinklers where 150 prisoners at a time were disrobed and ordered in for a shower which never gushed forth from the sprinklers because the chemical was gas. When they ran out of gas, they merely sucked all of the air out of the room.
I talked to the Jews who worked in the crematory, one room adjacent, where six and seven bodies at a time were burned. They gave these jobs to the Jews because they all died anyhow, and they didn’t want the rest of the prisoners to know their own fate. The Jews knew theirs, you see.
rest - near the electrified fence.
Source: Eckstein, Mauthhausen - Concentration and Annnihilation Camp, Yad Vashem, Jerusalem 1985, page 233
I saw the living skeletons, some of whom regardless of our medical corps work, will die and be in piles like that in the next few days. Malnutrition doesn’t stop the day that food is administered. Don’t get the idea that these people here were all derelicts, all just masses of people... some of them were doctors, authors, some of them American citizens. A scattered few were G.I.s. A Navy lieutenant still lives to tell the story. I saw where they lived; I saw where the sick died, three and four in a bed, no toilets, no nothing. I saw the look in their eyes. I shall never stop seeing the expression in the eyes of the anti-Franco former prisoners who have been given the job of guarding the S.S. men who were captured.
And how does the applause fit in? Mother, I walked through countless cell blocks filled with sick, dying people - 300 in a room twice the size of our living room as as we walked in - there was a ripple of applause and then an inspiring burst of applause and cheers, and men who could not stand up sat and whispered - though they tried to shout it - Vive L’Americansky... Vive L’Americansky... the applause, the cheers, those faces of men with legs the size and shape of rope, with ulcerated bodies, weeping with a kind of joy you and I will never, I hope, know. Vive L’Americansky... I got a cousin in Milwaukee... We thought you guys would come... Vive L’Americansky... Applause... gaunt, hopeless faces at last filled with hope. One younger man asked something in Polish which I could not understand but I did detect the word “Yit”... I asked an interpreter what he said - The interpreter blushed and finally said, “He wants to know if you are a Jew.” When I smiled and stuck out my mitt and said “yes”... he was unable to speak or show the feeling that was in his heart. As I walked away, I suddenly realized that this had been the first time I had shaken hands with my right hand. That, my dear, was Mauthausen.
I will write more letter in days to come. I want to write one on the Russians. I want to write and tell you how I sat next to Patton and Tolbukhin at a banquet at the Castle of Franz Josef. I want to write and tell you how the Germans look in defeat, how Munich looked in death, but those things sparkle with excitement and make good reading. This is my Mauthausen letter. I hope you will see fit to let Bill Braude and the folks read it. I would like to think that all the Wachenheimers and all the Friendlys and all our good Providence friends would read it. Then I want you to put it away and every Yom Kippur I want you to take it out and make your grandchildren read it.
For, if there had been no America, we, all of us, might well have carried granite at Mauthausen.
All my love,
Benjamin Eckstein, Mauthhausen - Concentration and Annnihilation Camp, Yad Vashem, Jerusalem 1985
Dedicated by the author:
To the memory of my mother Lea who was gassed to death in the gas chamber of Birkenau by the mid October 1944; to my father Yona who perished in Ebensee, three days after liberation of the camp; to my brother Szlomo who perished in Melk on March 12th, 1943
תקציר על עטיפת הספר:
מחנה הריכוז מאוטהאוזן, שהוקם במחצית שנת 1938 באזור הררי בקרבת העיר לינץ שבאוסטריה עילית, סווג כמקום שילוח של מתנגדי המשטר הנאצר שנידונו להכחדה.
בשנים הראשונות לקיום המחנה נשלחו אליו רק יהודים בודדים וכן שתי קבוצות גדולות יותר של יהודים מהולנד ומצ'כיה. אלה גם אלה נרצחו, תוך פרק זמו קצר, בשיטות של עינויים ועבודה מפרכת, בעיקר במחצבת הגרניט הסמוכה למחנה.
בשנים המאוחרות יותר של המלחמה הגיעו למאוטהאוזן, ולרשת הענפה של מחנות השלוחה שהוקמו סביבו, גלים גלים של משלוחים ובהם רבבות יהודים, בעיקרם מפוני אושוויץ ויהודי הונגריה, שהגיעו למחנה במסעות רגליים. האסירים היהודים היו נתונים בתנאי דיכוי וטרור חמורים בהרבה מאלה של שאר האסירים והם ששילמו את מחיר הקרבנות הגבוה ביותר.
במשל שנים אחדות עסק פרופ' בנימין אקשטיין באיסוף שקדני של חומר תיעודי על קורות המחנה, ובספרו מובאת בפעם הראשונה תמונה מלאה ומקיפה על גורל היהודים במחנה מאוטהאוזן ובמחנות המסונפים לו.
Extract on the book cover: (translated by AH)
Concentration Camp KL Mauthausen was erected in the 2nd half of 1938, in a mountainous region near the Austrian town Linz in Upper Austria (Oberösterreich). He was classified as a deportation camp to the opponents of the Nazi regime, doomed for extermination.
In the first years of its existence, only single Jews were sent there and additional 2 groups of Jews from Hungary and the Netherlands. All of them were murdered' in a short time' by methods of tortures and hard labor' mainly in the nearby granite quarry.
In the later years of the camp, more and more deportations arrived to the camp and its network of sub-camps. Among them were tens of thousands of prisoners evacuated from Auschwitz and Hungarian Jews, who arrived by feet. The Jewish prisoners were subject to oppression and terror conditions, much more severe than the other prisoners, and they also paid the highest price in number of victims.
Prof. Benjamin Ekcstein researched during years and collected documentary material about the history of the camp and for the first time he brings a comprehensive picture about the fate of the Jews in the concentration camp Mauthausen and its sub-camps.
* Source: Benjamin Eckstein, Mauthhausen - Concentration and Annnihilation Camp, Yad Vashem, Jerusalem 1985, pages 152-154
The day of liberation in the sub-camp Ebensee, 6.5.1945
Mauthausen-Gusen Concentration Camp
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Last updated on February 1st, 2008