The owner of land which formerly housed a Nazi concentration camp is planning to turn tunnels built there into a health centre to help treat people suffering from respiratory diseases.
The tunnels at Ebensee memorial site, the former location of a Nazi concentration camp located in Ebensee, a market town in the Traunviertel region of the Austrian state of Upper Austria, were built by concentration camp prisoners.
The plans to convert part of the now Ebensee Memorial site into the healing centre were confirmed by the director of the museum and memorial at Ebensee Wolfgang Quatember.
The tunnel gallery is currently in private ownership and was sold to a new owner who has drawn up plans to turn the historical site into a medical treatment centre.
Quatember said: “We are not totally against the plans, but we need to be very sensitive, it should not be unnecessarily irreverent when this place of historical significance is refurbished. The history of the place has to be documented.”
He added: “I have told the owner he should include all people involved in the discussions including the authorities, the Mauthausen Memorial Committee and the opinions of survivors should be considered too.”
A citizens’ initiative is fighting against the proposed project claiming it is unacceptable to go to a former Nazi tunnel for relaxation and recovery.
Local Mayor Markus Siller said: “At the moment this is no more than a vision of the owner. Currently assessments and measurements are being taken of the area to establish whether the location is even suitable as a place for healing and whether the climate inside is appropriate,”
The Ebensee concentration camp was built by the Nazis and comprises of a series of tunnels which were used for armaments storage. It was part of the Mauthausen network. The camp held a total of 27,278 male inmates from 1943 until 1945.
A Heilgtollen (healing gallery) has a combination of high humidity, warmth and radon deep inside tunnels. They are thought to help ease pain, stabilise immune systems as well as help cure respiratory conditions.
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