Saturday, August 22, 2015

Mauthausen Concentration Camp and St. Florian's Monastery

View of the huge facility at Mauthausen as we entered

 Israel's monument near the stairs to the quarry

Scott and I finally had a good night's sleep and the breakfast buffet was even grander than the previous hotel - mimosas! Then we were off on our buses again - this morning to the Mauthausen Concentration Camp Memorial. In the middle of farms and charming villages this huge prison was built at the site of a stone quarry. There thousands died of overwork, the cold and other horrors - or just plain shot. Barracks lined up in rows held hundreds in small unheated rooms. There was no medical services at all until just before the end of the war when a clinic was built - presumably to pretend to the winners that some humanity had been observed. It was evident from the accounts in the museum that it wasn't. Photos, mementos and remembrances from survivors testified movingly of their experiences and those that didn't live until liberation.
This simple monument was very affecting - the railroad line ending
at what felt like the gas chamber.

The bucolic countryside seen through the barbed wire
 The grounds were covered with individual memorials from every country remembering their citizens who had died here. Some were more evocative then others. But the whole conveys the cold stark horror of a policy that attempted to exterminate people the State defined as "undesirable"; Jews, Roma, homosexuals and Jehovah's Witnesses and later, Polish intellectuals. I learned after touring the camp that they had their own gas chambers here - our guide did not mention this and it wasn't featured in the museum. Wikipedia is much more explicit and harrowing. At the close, the Chorus performed several appropriate pieces, among them my favorite - MLK, a haunting song. The Chorus does an amazing job on this!
Sleep tonight
And may your dreams
Be realized
If the thunder cloud
Passes rain
So let it rain
Rain down on him
Mmm, mmm, mmm
So let it be
Mmm, mmm, mmm
So let it be
It was impossible to tell what country this was from but aparently
each city and town contributed their own placard on the face

After a quick lunch we toured the Augustinian St. Florian Monastery, founded in 1071. The present beautiful Baroque buildings and church were finished in 1708. It is the home of the St. Florian Boy's Choir and School - also founded in 1071! The composer Anton Bruckner served as organist here from 1848 - 1855 and is buried beneath his beloved organ. After a tour through the Abbey we listened to an organ receital and then heard Rip play several wonderful pieces on this famous instrument with over 7,000 pipes. It was a real thrill for him and us.
Several of us were dropped off afterward in the center of Linz to see the historic area. Scott was tired so I took off alone and really loved this pretty city bisected by the Danube River. On the way back I found a great bakery and brought back some famous Linzer Torte for Scott and I - yummy!

We formed a circle in the main room of the museum and had a
silent vigel holding hands and then the Chorus sang.
St. Florian's is a palace of a Monastery; home of a famous
boy's choir and school
One of the impressive entrances to the courtyard
Seems a little risque for Monks and little boys,
but well polished!
The main ballroom and now concert hall
The library had over 130,000 items including many manuscripts
These cherubs looked hard pressed to hold up the table
These skulls were rather "decoratively" arranged in the crypt

The Chorus performs in front of the main alter - this wasn't one
of our publicized concerts. Great acoustics in these churches!
The bass section!
Looking over the Danube River from the historic center of Linz to the Pilgrimage Church of Postlingberg at the top
of the hill. This is where we had our second concert the night before
After the war our guide's mother lived on the Soviet side and
worked on the U.S. side - the conditions were much better in the
The main square in Linz
Soft colors and lots of white decoration on the buildings

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