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The camp for Jewish forced labourers from Hungary, St. Pölten Viehofen, Lower Austria

Greta and Olga Balog were deported with their family in July 1944 from Subotica (today: Republic of Serbia, Hungarian: Szabadka) to St. Pölten-Viehofen. In 2007 Miki Granski, son of Greta Balog, wrote The Viehofen Forced Labour Camp (1944-5), the story of his family during the Second World War. He lives in Haifa, Israel.

Olga Dothan (née Balog) was eleven when she arrived with her family from Subotica at the forced labour camp for Hungarian Jews in St. Pölten-Viehofen. Viehofen Lake today stands on the site of the former camp. Catrin Bolt interviewed Olga Dothan in Tel Aviv in December 2009.

Greta Balog, sixteen at the time of her deportation, taught the children at the Viehofen camp. In early April 1945, when it was clear that the war was coming to an end and that camp would be liberated, the schoolchildren wrote farewell letters to their beloved teacher. The camp inmates were driven to Mauthausen, however, and many of these children failed to survive the death march. Sample letters by Judith Könyvesi, Vera Mahler, Eva and Edi.

Viehofen Lakes today stand on the site of the camp for Jewish forced labourers from Hungary.

"The first person to die in our hut was Izso Potasman and he died from a bleeding ulcer." From the report by Susan Fisher, interned in St. Pölten-Viehofen as a young woman.

In early April 1945, as the Red Army was approaching and the camp in Viehofen was "evacuated" by the SS to Mauthausen, the Balog family decided to escape. They hid in the basement of St. Pölten general hospital and were looked after in secret for a week by Sister Andrea.

Most of the deportees to St. Pölten-Viehofen came from Hungary. Malvine and Filip Hegyi were over eighty when they arrived at Viehofen with their daughter-in-law Magda Seidner and their grandchildren Anna and György from Subotica (Hungarian: Szabadka). They both died there.

Rozsi Wolf was deported from Szeged (Hungary) to Austria. She worked from July to October 1944 in the Merseburg ammonia plant in Moosbierbaum, Lower Austria, then on straightening the Traisen river in St. Pölten-Viehofen. She survived the death march to Mauthausen and was liberated there. During her internment she kept a diary consisting of letters written to her future husband Laci.

On 1 April 1945, the 15th US Air Force began its last and heaviest aerial bombardment of St. Pölten. Some bombs fell on Viehofen killing Armin Wolf.

While searching for the grave of her father Armin, Rozsi Wolf described 1997 in a letter to the Institute for Jewish History in Austria in St. Pölten the circumstances of his death in early April 1945.

Clara Kraus was heavily pregnant when she arrived in July 1944 with her two-year-old son Peter at the forced labour camp for Hungarian Jews in Viehofen. According to the city's register of births, Paul Kraus was born on 20 October 1944 in the camp.

In 1948 Clara Kraus emigrated with her husband, who had been liberated by American soldiers from Mauthausen in 1945, and their two children to Australia. In The Colours of War - Ten Uncertain Years, 1935-45 published in 1986, she describes her life in Subotica and Belgrade during the Second World War. In the chapter Fruitless Summer - reproduced here by kind permission - she describes here arrival and first months in Viehofen.

The forced labour camp at Glanzstoff factory

Nina Sharikova was deported from Saporoshje (Ukraine) to Austria at the age of sixteen. She arrived at the camp for "Eastern workers", as they were called, at the end of 1942. In an interview with Catrin Bolt she describes everyday life in the camp and the working conditions at the Glanzstoff factory.

New arrivals at the camp were registered in St. Pölten as forced labourers. Such was the case with Proti Sigajev, aged twenty-two, when he arrived at the Glanzstoff factory in Viehofen. According to the registration form, he came from Ukraine, was married to Nina Kutscheruk and their child was born on 22 January 1943 but died the same day. Proti Sigajev managed to escape twice from the Glanzstoff camp.

The mass grave in St. Pölten municipal cemetery

The main cemetery in St. Pölten contains an unmarked mass grave from the Second World War. The names and religions of the dead are officially known. Those who wish to remove the names of their relatives from the lists should notify the contact address.

Further reading
Eleonore Lappin, The Death Marches of Hungarian Jews through Austria in the Spring of 1945, in: Yad Vashem Studies vol. XXVIII (2000), 203-42.

Institute for Jewish History in Austria
IHI Institut für Historische Intervention
Mauthausen Memorial
The Documentation Centre of Austrian Resistance
Endkämpfe 1945 - Der Südostwall

Invitation for competition submissions for Viehofen memorial, 2009
publicart Kunst im öffentlichen Raum Niederösterreich
Project by Catrin Bolt, ex aequo winner of the competition
Photos to download