Mauthausen Concentration Camp

Country Austria
GPS 48° 15' 30.97404" N, 14° 30' 21.26484" E
Address Erinnerungsstr. 1, 4310 Mauthausen, Austria
Dates Active 1938 – 1945

Channel Islanders Imprisoned in Mauthausen Concentration Camp
Anthony Charles Chevalier Faramus

By Roderick Miller

Only one Channel Islander, Anthony Faramus, is known to have been imprisoned in Mauthausen Concentration Camp (Konzentrationslager Mauthausen), near the town of Mauthausen in the German Reich state of Ostmark, now called Austria. Another islander, William Cordrey, believed throughout his life that Suben Workhouse Prison, the last prison he was incarcerated in, was administrated by Mauthausen Concentration Camp. but this assertion has yet to be documented. Mauthausen Concentration Camp was constructed between May and September 1938 using the forced labour of Dachau Concentration Camp prisoners. The Nazis wanted a new camp for political prisoners and the location near some stone quarries was practical as a means of exploiting the prisoners for forced labour.

The camp was 279 by 689 feet in size and surrounded by granite walls topped with high-voltage barbed wire. There were stone guard towers and a large square for roll call, as well as wash barracks, a kitchen, an infirmary and a crematorium. POW barracks were later built outside of the main walled camp. By May 1942, nearly 4,000 prisoners were performing forced labour in the nearby stone quarry, which the prisoners had to get to by being force-marched down 186 stone steps each day. The prisoners had to then haul up large blocks of stone by hand up the same steps, leading to brutality on the part of the guards and a high fatality rate among the prisoners. By late 1942 there were 21,000 prisoners of all nationalities in the camp.

There were, in addition to political prisoners, a large number of Jews in the camp from many Eastern European countries including Hungary, the Czech Republic and Poland. Most of those who survived the initial selections were sent out to sub-camps to perform forced labour for the Nazi war effort.

Prisoners at Mauthausen were subject to constant brutality from the SS guards and Kapos (prisoner guards). The lack of proper nutrition and sanitary facilities meant that diseases were rampant in the camp. Prisoners often had to stand twice a day for roll call, without warm clothing in sub-freezing temperatures, and often for hours on end. In 1941, the Nazis began an official system of classifying concentration camps according to their severity, and Mauthausen was given top ranking as being for prisoners who ‘have hardly any chance for rehabilitation’. [1]

The death rate increased consistently throughout the camp’s existence, with over 7,000 dead in 1944 and 15,630 registered in just the first four months of 1945. Mass executions were not uncommon, with 263 Czech prisoners shot in a single day in October 1942. Prisoners who were no longer fit for work were killed by a lethal injection into the heart. A gas chamber was constructed in 1941 and prisoners were also killed in poison gas vans.

Anthony Faramus arrived at Mauthausen from Pankrác Prison in Prague on 9 December 1944, and according to his memoirs, was met with immediate violence upon arrival:

Unlike at Buchenwald, where murder was unhurried, killing in Mauthausen was an industry maintained at full speed… Conditions were unimaginably shocking. I had thought that there was no hell on earth to equal Buchenwald — but here rotten bodies littered the blocks and streets, giving off a sour stench that was impossible to escape.

Faramus was not required to perform forced labour at Mauthausen, though the reasons for this are unclear. It is possible that due to the chaos of overcrowding in the last months of the war he was merely overlooked, but this is unlikely as most prisoners unfit for work were simply murdered. Another possible explanation — the one given by Eddie Chapman, but denied by Faramus — is that Faramus was given ‘special prisoner’ status as a hostage of the Abwehr (German Military Intelligence) and thus protected from the ‘work or die’ policy to which most of the other prisoners were subjected. Faramus was in very poor health after his past years in various concentration camps, but he stated that he did receive some basic medical care in the camp, a fact that supports the explanation that he may have had some sort of protected prisoner status.

By spring of 1945 Mauthausen held over 45,000 prisoners and many were forced to live in tents under brutal conditions outside of the camp walls. So many prisoners died shortly after arrival in the camp that many were never even registered in the death books. The SS guards fled Mauthausen on 3 May 1945 and it was liberated by US troops two days later, after some weeks of what Faramus described as ‘chaos and panic’ with ‘no allocations of food’. The Americans found 21,000 prisoners there still alive. According to Faramus, the prisoners set up a kangaroo court and tortured and shot some captured SS guards and Kapos.

Mauthausen commandant SS-Obersturmbannführer Franz Ziereis went into hiding but was caught by the allies in May 1945 and died shortly thereafter from gunshot wounds inflicted during his capture. Mauthausen functionaries were put on trial at war crimes trials held by the US military in Dachau in 1946. 49 SS guards and prisoner Kapos were sentenced to death and executed by hanging in Landsberg Prison. Eleven of the former Mauthausen personnel were given life sentences. A further 48 were sentenced to death and executed in related trials in 1947. Most of those who received life sentences were let out of prison by the mid-1950s. Mauthausen Concentration Camp is now a state-sponsored memorial and museum open to the public.

After the war, Anthony Faramus suffered from post traumatic stress disorder and a number of severe health issues. He eventually moved to the United States where he worked as a chauffeur and played minor roles in several Hollywood films.

[1] Decree by the Reinhard Heydrich of the Reichssicherheitshauptamt from 1941, via Megargee (see Sources below).

Further Reading

Carr, Gilly; Sanders, Paul; Willmot Louise: Protest, Defiance and Resistance in the Channel Islands: German Occupation, 1940-1945, Bloomsbury Academic, London & New York, 2014.


Chapman, E. 1953. The Eddie Chapman Story. Tandem Books: London.

Faramus, Anthony: The Faramus Story. Digit Books,, London, 1954.

Faramus, Anthony: Journey into Darkness: A true story of human endurance. Grafton Books: London, 1990.

Megargee, Geoffrey P. (editor): Encyclopedia of Camps and Ghettos, 1933–1945, Vol. 1 , Part B. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum , Indiana University Press, Bloomington and Indianapolis, 2009, pp. 900-903.

The National Archives (TNA), Foreign Office (FO):
TNA FO 950/2210 (Faramus)