© 2013 LARISSA AHARONI

CONTACT

The deportation and murder of the Romani and Sinti people detained at Triebendorf forced labour camp

Recognized as a national minority in Austria since 1993 the Romani and Sinti people were, similar to the
Jewish population, repeatedly subjected to persecution and repression over centuries. Before 1938 they
used to trek up the Mur river toward Salzburg twice a year, stopping at a few campsites in the “Murau”
district. After the "annexation" in March 1938 they were immediately robbed of there civil rights and
subsequently systematically persecuted and killed.

From October 1940, special detention camps for "gypsies" were also set up in Styria (Steiermark) within
a period of a few weeks where those imprisoned were deployed for forced labor. In the Murau district more
than 200 Romani and Sinti people were detained in the Triebendorf and St. Lambrecht detention camps for
forced labour on road construction sites.

The barracks of the Triebendorf detention camp in the area of Laßnitz were located between Mauthof and
Gestüthof directly on the Mus river. Approximately 250 internees moved into the “labour camp for detained
prisoners” on July 1, 1939,  doing forced labour for the construction company Beyer & Co in Graz. From
1939 to 1940, the camp population was predominantly composed of politically persecuted people, small-time
criminals, as well as people the NS authorities declared “asocial”. From the summer of 1940, the Triebendorf
and St. Lmabrecht camps were primarily occupied by Belgien and French war prisoners. In the fall of the
same year, both camps were “cleared” for the imprisoned Romani and Sinti people.

On October 1, 1941, Heinrich Himmler arranged the deportation of 5000 Romani and Sinti people to the Lodz
Ghetto in Poland. On October 31, 1941 a special train brought the people from the Upper Styria labour camps
via Unzmarkt and Graz to the collection camps in Fürstenfeld and Alt-Pinkafeld, from where the Romani and
Sinti people, now collectively as families, were deported to Lodz.

The transports from Styria to Poland comprised a total of 5007 people: 1188 women, 1130 men, and 2689
children. All those who survived the ghetto were gassed in the winter of 1941/42 in the Polish extermination
camp Chelmo. The relevant Styrian authorities among them County Leader Franz Amberger and District
Administrator of Murau Eduard Prantner, had been informed of the imminent “gypsy” deportations already
in the summer of 1940, not least to guarentee that the deportations would run smoothly with their support.

While the first research results on the Triebendorf and St. Lambrecht camps, as well as on the deportation
of the Romani and Sinti people are presented in the exhibition at the Municipality Museum, the public space is
also included in the context: Along the section of the Murtal highway where the men detained at the Triebendorf
camp were deployed for forced labor “traffic signs” designed by the Artist Larissa Aharoni are positioned
as a reminder of the fate of the Romani and Sinti people who were detained here.

Extract from “REGIONALE 12 / Stadt. Land. Fluss.”, Festival for Contemporary Art, June 22 – July 22, 2012,
catalogue, Graz 2012, page 73-74