Fury over planned meat factory on site of Nazi labor camp
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Fury over planned meat factory on site of Nazi labor camp

Descendants of former landowners oppose plans by one Austria's biggest pork producers to develop location, say they weren't compensated

Prisoners at forced labor building the Dove-Elbe canal in Germany, 1941-42. The kapos wear white and black armbands. (US Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of KZ-Gedenkstatte Neuengamme)
Prisoners at forced labor building the Dove-Elbe canal in Germany, 1941-42. The kapos wear white and black armbands. (US Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of KZ-Gedenkstatte Neuengamme)

Plans to construct a sausage and bacon factory at the location of a Nazi-era forced labor camp have struck a raw nerve with the family of the former owners.

The site, located in the western Austrian municipality of Haiming, was once home to hundreds of prisoners forced by the Nazis to construct a dam for a hydro-electric plant.

Following World War II, the camp was destroyed and remained idle, until the Tiwag power company — which owned the plot — sold it to Handyl Tyrol, one of the largest manufactures of sausage and bacon products in Austria, according to The Times of London.

However, plans to develop the site have triggered protests, as the descendants of the former landowners say they were forced by the Nazi-supported regime to sell the land and never received due compensation.

Although a commission appointed after World War II found the plot was acquired “in the general interest” and there was no need to recompense the former owners, plans to develop the site have nevertheless triggered longstanding emotions.

A memorial to the Romany Holocaust victims which was unveiled in 2000 at the Mirovice cemetery next to a huge industrial pig farm situated at the site of former concentration camp in Lety, south Bohemia, May 4, 2005. (AFP/MICHAL CIZEK)
A memorial to the Romany Holocaust victims which was unveiled in 2000 at the Mirovice cemetery next to a huge industrial pig farm situated at the site of former concentration camp in Lety, south Bohemia, May 4, 2005. (AFP/MIchal Cizek)

The case in Austria highlights the sensitivity involved in developing sites that formerly housed camps used by the Nazis for forced labor and the extermination of Jews and other groups they deemed undesirable, such as the campaign last year in the Czech Republic to decommission a pig farm built in the 1970s on the site of a former Nazi concentration camp for Roma, where some 327 people died during World War II.

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