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Casting of a long fire hook used with the crematorium ovens at Mauthausen concentration camp

Object

Painted fiberglass casting of a long fire hook 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 fire hook was an aid used to unload bodies off the stretcher (for an example from the collection, see CA91.1.7) into the muffle, oven chamber, (for an example from the collection, see CA91.1.10). 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 hook may have also been used to scrape out ash from where it collected at the bottom of the oven. The 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 fire hook—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)
Classification
Tools and Equipment
Category
Equipment
Object Type
Firesets (aat)
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection
 
Record last modified: 2020-06-30 09:24:46
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn14225