The segregation of prisoners at Mauthausen

Sarah McPhee

WHO WERE THE PRISONERS OF MAUTHAUSEN CONCENTRATION CAMP?

- Around 190,000 people from over 40 countries were imprisoned at Mauthausen-Gusen in Austria

- At least 90,000 died between 1938 and 1945

- German and Austrian men were the first prisoners before WWII broke out, while thousands from German-occupied countries including Hungarian and Polish Jews, non-Jewish Poles, Soviet and Yugoslav civilians, Italians and Czechs came during the war

WHAT DID THE DIFFERENT SYMBOLS ON THEIR CLOTHING MEAN?

- Prisoners were categorised by triangles in different colours and letters, according to the reason they had been sent to the camp, determining their chance of survival and position in camp hierarchy

- Categories included Jews, criminals, antisocials, political opponents, emigrants, gypsies and homosexuals

- Homosexuals were typically at the bottom of the prisoner hierarchy next to Jews

WHY WERE HOMOSEXUALS SEGREGATED?

- Around 10,000-15,000 gay men were sent to Nazi concentration camps, and an estimated 60 per cent killed

- Around 250 homosexuals were interned in Mauthausen, 80 of whom died in the camp

- Male homosexuals were regarded as a threat to the Nazi crusade and developing the superior Aryan race

(Source: Mauthausen Memorial; Homosexuals in Austria: Nazi persecution and the long struggle for rehabilitation by Kurt Krickler, Homosexual Initiative Vienna)