A little history lesson

3 May

As we struggle with the coronavirus, let us not forget that 75 years ago the Second World War was ending. In Austria alone, as the Kurier reported this morning, the timeline looked like this:

29 March 1945 – Soviet troops entered Austria in Burgenland; members of the SS rolled boulders off the rim of the quarry in St. Margarethen onto the forced laborers who had been driven together in the quarry below, causing a blood bath; massacres of forced laborers took place in Deutsch-Schuetzen and Bad Deutsch-Altenburg; a death march from the southeast towards the concentration camp Mauthausen near Linz (approximately 300 km away) were started

6 April 1945 – There is a massacre, called the “Krems Rabbit Hunt” (Kremser Hasenjagd), as the concentration camp Krems-Stein is being evacuated. In this massacre, prisoners who tried to escape, including the freedom figher Alois Westermeier, were caught and executed.

8 April 1945 – The freedom fighters Major Karl Biedermann, Captain Alfred Huth, and First Lieutenant Rudolf Raschke were executed at the Florisdorfer Spitz in Vienna for trying to negotiate with the Red Army a peaceful transfer of Vienna.

13 April 1945 – The battle for Vienna ends. St. Stephen’s Cathedral stands in flames.

17 April 1945 – Theodor Koerner is appointed interim mayor of Vienna.

27 April 1945 – Declaration of independence and founding of the Second Republic.

28 April 1945 – U.S. American troops approach Tirol and Upper Austria. The last of three death march groups reach the camp in Gunskirchen, Upper Austria. Thousands of those people do not survive the next few days.

29 April 1945 – Last murder by gassing of prisoners in the concentration camp, Mauthausen. French troops enter Austrian soil in Vorarlberg.

30 April 1945 – In Vienna, at the orders of Interim Mayor Theodor Koerner, street signs with National Socialist names are taped over. Hitler commits suicide in his bunker in Berlin.

6 May 1945 – British troops cross the Carinthian border into Austria. The concentration camp [actually Aussenlager”] Ebensee is liberated by U.S. American troops.

8 May 1945 – Eight days after Hitler’s suicide, the Third Reich capitulates unconditionally and the war in Europe is over.

One Response to “A little history lesson”

  1. esauboeck at 6:59 pm #

    Thank you for this chilling reminder of what it was like at the end of the war in Vienna. And then came hunger and cold and no housing. Lest we forget how much humane progress Europe has made since that awful time.

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