On the night of February 2 to 3, 1945, the prisoners of the Mauthausen concentration camp were raised from the bunks by machine-gun fire. Shouts of "Hurray!" left no doubt: a real battle is going on in the camp. These are 500 prisoners of block 20 (death block) attacked machine-gun towers.
In the summer of 1944, Unit 20 appeared in Mauthausen, for the Russians. It was a camp in a camp, separated from the general territory by a fence 2.5 meters high, along the top of which there was a wire under current. Three towers with machine guns stood along the perimeter. The prisoners of the 20th block received ¼ of the general camp ration. They were not supposed to have spoons or plates. The unit has never been heated. There were no frames or glass in the window openings. There were not even bunks in the block. In winter, before driving the prisoners into the block, the SS men filled the floor of the block with water from a hose. People lay down in the water and just didn't wake up.
The "suicide bombers" had a "privilege" - they did not work like other prisoners. Instead, they did "physical exercise" all day - running nonstop around the block or crawling. During the existence of the block, about 6 thousand people were destroyed in it. By the end of January, about 570 people remained alive in Unit 20.
With the exception of 5-6 Yugoslavs and a few Poles (participants in the Warsaw uprising), all the prisoners of the "death block" were Soviet prisoners of war officers sent here from other camps. Prisoners were sent to the 20th block of Mauthausen, who even in concentration camps posed a threat to the Third Reich due to their military education, strong-willed qualities and organizational abilities.
All of them were taken prisoner wounded or unconscious, and during their time in captivity were declared "incorrigible." In the accompanying documents each of them had the letter "K", which meant that the prisoner was to be liquidated as soon as possible. Therefore, those who arrived in the 20th block were not even branded, since the life of the prisoner in the 20th block did not exceed several weeks.
On the appointed night, at about midnight, the "suicide bombers" began to get their "weapons" from their hiding places - boulders, pieces of coal and fragments of a broken washstand. The main "weapons" were two fire extinguishers. 4 assault groups were formed: three were to attack machine-gun towers, one, if necessary, to repulse an external attack from the camp.
Around one in the morning, shouting "Hurray!" the suicide bombers of the 20th block began to jump through the window openings and rushed to the towers. Machine guns opened fire.
Foamy jets of fire extinguishers hit the faces of the machine gunners, a hail of stones flew. Even pieces of ersatz soap and wooden blocks flew from their feet. One machine gun choked, and members of the assault group immediately began to climb the tower. Taking possession of the machine gun, they opened fire on the neighboring towers. The prisoners, using wooden planks, short-circuited the wire, threw blankets on it and began to climb over the wall.
Of the nearly 500 people, more than 400 managed to break through the outer fence and ended up outside the camp. As agreed, the fugitives split into several groups and rushed in different directions to make it difficult to capture. The largest group ran towards the forest. When the SS began to overtake her, several dozen people separated and rushed to meet their pursuers in order to take their last battle and delay the enemies for at least a few minutes.
One of the groups stumbled upon a German anti-aircraft battery. Having removed the sentry and burst into the dugouts, the fugitives strangled the gun servant with their bare hands, seized weapons and a truck. The group was overtaken and accepted their last fight.
About a hundred of the prisoners who escaped to freedom died in the very first hours.Stuck in deep snow, in the cold (the thermometer showed minus 8 degrees that night), exhausted, many simply physically could not walk more than 10-15 km.
But more than 300 managed to escape from the pursuit and hid in the vicinity.
In search of the fugitives, in addition to guarding the camp, units of the Wehrmacht, SS units and the local field gendarmerie stationed in the vicinity were involved. The captured fugitives were taken to Mauthausen and shot at the wall of the crematorium, where the bodies were immediately burned. But most often they were shot at the place of capture, and already corpses were brought to the camp.
In German documents, the measures to search for the fugitives were called "Mühlfiertel's Hunt for Hares." The local population was involved in the search.
The Volkssturm fighters, members of the Hitler Youth, members of the local NSDAP cell and non-party volunteers eagerly searched for "rabbits" in the vicinity and killed them right on the spot. They killed with improvised means - axes, pitchforks, since they were saving cartridges. The corpses were taken to the village of Ried in der Riedmarkt, and dumped in the courtyard of the local school.
Here, the SS men were counting, crossing out the sticks painted on the wall. A few days later, the SS men announced that "the score was settled."
One person from the group that destroyed the German anti-aircraft battery survived. For ninety-two days, risking her life, the Austrian peasant woman Langthaler hid two fugitives on her farm, whose sons at that time were fighting as part of the Wehrmacht. Nineteen of those who fled were never caught. The names of 11 of them are known. 8 of them survived and returned to the Soviet Union.
In 1994, Austrian director and producer Andreas Gruber made a film about the events in the Mühlviertel district ("Hasenjagd: Vor lauter Feigheit gibt es kein Erbarmen").
The film became the highest grossing film in Austria in 1994-1995. The film won several awards:
- Special Jury Prize at the San Sebastian Film Festival, 1994
- Audience Award, 1994
- Upper Austrian Culture Prize
- Austrian Film Award, 1995
It is curious that this film was never shown here. Few people have heard of this film at all. Unless only professional filmmakers. But they are not interested in such stories. "For some reason."
And "our" media unanimously ignored the 70th anniversary of this date, not saying a word about it.
- "For some reason".
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