Forced Labour for Steyr-Daimler-Puch AG.
Lodovico Barbiano di Belgiojoso: “Gusen nella Härterei, il Prof. Heim, Albert Carion [Gusen, in der Härterei]“, o. J. Lodovico Barbiano di Belgiojoso musste in Gusen für die SDP Zwangsarbeit leisten. Die Zeichnung zeigt seine Mitgefangenen Roger Heim, Dozent für Naturgeschichte an der Sorbonne, und Albert Carion, ein belgischer Radrennfahrer. (A.N.E.D., Mailand)In the spring of 1942, the SS leaders recognised that there was a need to improve life conditions in the concentration camps – in order to optimise use of the manpower provided by concentration camp prisoners. In fact, there was no change in the camps' day-to-day life until the armament industry decided it needed qualified and able-bodied prisoners from the concentration camps.
Report by Eugen Thomé, prisoner from Luxembourg:
"The Steyr Command developed into the best camp command around. Every month, the prisoners received cigarette stamps from the Steyr company. This had an effect on the wealth of the Steyr barracks and their kings, the block elders and block scribes. Shoes could also be worn within the blocks. Coffee and soup was distributed in the Stube (barracks subdivision). Everyday louse inspection became less cruel. Death by bludgeoning became less frequent."
Cited in: Amicale de Mauthausen [ed.]: Letzeburger zu Mauthausen. Luxembourg: 1970²
In spite of the death penalty looming over them, prisoners put their lives at risk by putting up resistance and sabotaging production. From a report by the Polish prisoner Emil Samek:
"Our arms production line manufactured part of the Karabiner K 98 rifle and the MP 44 and 45 assault guns. After machine production, almost all parts were subjected to a specific hardening process depending on their function. Even small deviations in the technology caused early wear or breakage. You did not even have to subject all parts to the wrong hardening process; 1 to 2 wrongly hardened parts per gun already did the trick. The parts hardened in our tempering shop only had to pass the final assembly [...] and test firing at the test bench, then (at the front) they were liable to malfunction. With high probability, the sabotage inflicted at Steyer arms production in Gusen 1 Mauthausen weakened the defence of several combat sectors to some degree."
(Mauthausen Memorial / Collections)