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September 1944, Landestheater [Provincial Theatre]

33 employees of the Landestheater [Provincial Theatre] – actors, musicians and stage hands – are pressed into overseeing concentration camp prisoners in the Mauthausen subcamps in Linz.

As a result of the declaration of “total war”, the Nazi Employment Office was empowered to issue compulsory work orders. Whoever refused to accept one or contravened other Employment Office regulations could be interned in the Bindermichl camp, which was run be the Employment Office itself.

From September 1944 onwards all theatres in the German Reich were closed. Because of this 33 employees of the Landestheater – actors, musicians and stage hands – were pressed into service by the Linz Employment Office. They were to act as assistant camp overseers and taken to Mauthausen where they underwent a 2-week training period and were formally made members of the SS. In the main the men were between 50 and 60 years old and not fit for military service. After this short training period they guarded concentration camp prisoners in the Mauthausen subcamps in Linz.

After the liberation they were interned by the American military authorities. One of the survivors of the concentration camp Linz II described the conduct of the theatre employees as “proper”: “In general one can say nothing bad about them, especially the actors, they were very friendly towards us. They did not demand that we doff our caps to them which, in principle, was compulsory in other concentration camps”.