American Soldiers Liberated My Dad

The year 2020 will be remembered for many significant events, including the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II. Events were held around the world to honor those who served in the "Great War." Every year thousands attend a commemoration of the liberation of Mauthausen-Gusen Concentration Camp by American GIs.

From 1938 to 1945 Hitler deported almost 200,000 people to Mauthausen and the other camps in its network, such as Gusen, including political prisoners, prisoners of war, Jews, Roma, religious clergy and homosexuals. Prisoners were forced to labor in a nearby stone quarry and latter, to construct subterranean tunnels for rocket assembly factories. These political and ideological "enemies of Germany" were sentenced to death through labor.

During the final months before liberation, the camp's commander prepared for its defense against a possible Soviet offensive, including the building of granite anti-tank obstacles. A "closure" plan was prepared to force all the thousands of prisoners into the massive subterranean caverns, blast the caverns and bury all evidence of their crimes. In early May, unrest occurred in the camp with the SS and guards fleeing, substitute Volksstrum soldiers put in place and the prisoner-resistance groups working to secure and protect the remaining prisoners. On May 5 the camp of Mauthausen was approached by a squad of US Army soldiers led by Staff Sergeant Albert J. Kosiek of the 41st Reconnaissance Squadron of the US 11th Armored Division. Units of the 3rd US Army liberated around 40,000 prisoners. They found mounds of dead bodies. Thousands more were so weak that they died despite care provided by the Army medical units.

Every year in May services are held in Mauthausen Concentration Camp. Those who perished, those who suffered but survived and those who saved them are honored. At the event, the Mauthausen Oath, first read on May 16, 1945 by the survivors is repeated. An excerpt: "We wish to conserve the international solidarity of the camp in our memories and to derive from it the lessons; follow a common path; the one of freedom- indispensable for every population, of reciprocal respect, of collaboration in the great work of constructing a new world that is free and just for all."

As the daughter of a liberated Gusen prisoner, I stand taller when the US flag passes. I say, "thank you for your service" every time I see a veteran. Thank you for saving my dad.

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