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Casting of crematorium stretcher used to load the ovens at Mauthausen concentration camp

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    Overview

    Brief Narrative
    Painted fiberglass casting of a long, rectangular stretcher from the crematorium at Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria, commissioned by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum for installation in the museum’s permanent exhibition. In March 1938, Germany annexed Austria, and established a concentration camp roughly three miles from the town of Mauthausen the following August. It originally functioned as a forced-labor camp with a granite quarry. Additionally, in 1941, the camp began to carry out mass killings using gas and several other methods. The systematic killings necessitated the construction of a crematorium facility at the camp, and the dehumanization of prisoners’ deaths was compounded by the high-volume and industrialized body disposal methods. The stretcher (also called a corpse board) was loaded with corpses by forced-labor prisoners, who then lifted it and placed on a set of iron rollers. The prisoners loading the stretchers were ordered to stack the bodies in arrangements that allowed them to burn as efficiently and quickly as possible. The stretcher was then pushed to the back of the muffle, oven chamber, (for an example in the collection, see CA91.1.10), unloaded with the aid of a fire iron or fire hook (for an example in the collection, see CA91.1.8) and then withdrawn. After it was removed, the prisoners would cool the stretcher with a mix of water and soap, which would help the following load to slide off more easily. The stretcher and cremation tools at Mauthausen—and most of those used in crematoriums throughout Europe at the time—were supplied by the German-based engineering and manufacturing company, J.A. Topf & Sons. The metal components of Mauthausen’s furnace—including the stretcher—were shipped to Mauthausen at the end of September 1942. The last mass murder in the Mauthausen gas chamber occurred on April 28, 1945. The SS abandoned the camp on May 3 and US troops arrived within days.
    Date
    manufacture:  after 1989 August 15-before 1991 March 18
    Geography
    representation: Mauthausen (Concentration Camp); Mauthausen (Austria)
    manufacture: West Sussex (England)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection
    Contributor
    Manufacturer: Edward Lawrence Associates (Export) Limited

    Physical Details

    Classification
    Tools and Equipment
    Category
    Vehicles
    Physical Description
    Painted fiberglass casting of a long, rectangular stretcher. It is composed of two long, straight pipes that bend outward into handles at one end. Just inside of the handles, the long pipes are connected by a short, bracing pipe. Protruding from the underside of the pipes and bracer are two triangular rests, made from thinner pipes. On the opposite end, two pieces of curved sheeting covers the pipes, wrapping around to the underside. The seam where the pieces of sheeting meet is puckered and separating slightly. The casting is painted reddish brown to resemble the corroded metal of the original stretcher.
    Dimensions
    overall: Height: 3.500 inches (8.89 cm) | Width: 15.000 inches (38.1 cm) | Depth: 119.500 inches (303.53 cm)
    Materials
    overall : fiberglass, paint

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    No restrictions on access
    Conditions on Use
    No restrictions on use

    Keywords & Subjects

    Geographic Name
    Mauthausen (Austria)

    Administrative Notes

    Provenance
    The stretcher casting was acquired by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 1991.
    Primary Number
    CA91.1.7
    Record last modified:
    2023-05-24 08:47:31
    This page:
    https:​/​/collections.ushmm.org​/search​/catalog​/irn14224

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