Poland wants to purchase former German death camp site in Austria

On Friday, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said that Poland is trying to purchase land encompassing the former Nazi German Mauthausen-Gusen death camp located in Austria.

“We cannot allow the former extermination camps' sites to turn into places unworthy of commemoration, places that serve other purposes,” PM Morawiecki said.

Although the Mauthausen site remains largely intact, much of what constituted the subcamps of Gusen I, II and III is now covered by residential areas and several Austrian companies have their headquarters there.

“Every second prisoner died in this death camp, including a significant part of the Polish intelligentsia,” Mr Morawiecki recalled.

The PM stressed that the Polish state was obliged to preserve the memory of Nazi German WWII atrocities. He also said that one must not remain passive in the face of historical distortions.

Earlier, the Polish authorities complained about the accessibility of the site, calling the Austrians out for mismanagement of the former camp and historical negligence.

"We hope that permanent testimonies of the cruel past, such as the remains of the Gusen camp, will be managed in a way that would ensure former prisoners, their families and visitors wishing to pay tribute to the Mauthausen-Gusen victims, a dignified means of commemoration fully supplied with information about the history of this place," deputy PM Piotr Gliński said in May this year.

The camp operated from August 8, 1938, to its liberation by the US Army on May 5, 1945. The total death toll at the death camp is unknown, since the Germans managed to obliterate much of the evidence of their activities there, although scholars place it between 70,000 and 120,000. It is estimated that about 40 percent of all prisoners who died at the Mauthausen-Gusen camp were Poles, bringing the death toll of Poles to between 27,000 and 35,000.