Austria's Mauthausen concentration camp: because turning away shouldn't be an option

Yes, of course, the four capitals of Central Europe we visited on our Danube River cruise with Grand Circle ToursPrague, Vienna, Bratislava, and Budapest – were all wrapped in wonder, overwhelmed with their impressive history, expansive promenades and architectural grandeur. But it was an experience near Linz in upper Austria that most impacted me – a visit to the Mauthausen Concentration Camp, one of the first to be built by the Nazis, in 1938, and in 1945 the last to be liberated (below).

By way of a little background, as a teenager I had my first visual exposure to the horrors of the Shoa (aka the Holocaust) in some newsreel depictions of the liberation of some Nazi death camps after the war – the emaciated survivors with their sunken eyes, gaunt bodies and harrowed auras. I remember calling my mother, who had told me of the Holocaust my whole life, and said: “Mom, I finally understand.” Now six decades later, I came to understand even more.

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