The fatalities of the satellite concentration camp of Melk

The fatalities of the satellite concentration camp of Melk
Scan of a page of Melk’s Book of the Dead. Source: National Archives, Washington.

Within a year 4.874 prisoners lost their lives in the satellite concentration camp of Melk.

About a third of the fatalities were prisoners of Polish and Hungarian origin, approximately 11 percent were French. The death rate was disproportionately high among the Jewish prisoners: they represented a third of the prisoners, while about 42 percent of the fatalities were categorized as Jewish.

There are several reasons for the extremely high death toll in the satellite concentration camp of Melk: hard physical labor; a high work pace and many accidents during the forced work (which was considered essential to the war effort) in the tunnel complex in the Wachberg hill in Roggendorf; malnourishment and inadequate clothing; the housing situation on the grounds of the Birago barracks as well as constant maltreatment by guards, prisoner functionaries and civil workers. In addition to deaths due to illness among the severely weakened concentration camp prisoners, there were deliberate murders, including those committed by SS member Gottlieb Muzikant, a medic in Melk’s sick bay, through lethal injections. More than 200 prisoners were also killed in July 1944 in a bombing raid by the Fifteenth US Air Force.

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