Britische Besatzungslager in Östereich nach dem Zweiten Weltkrieg


  • Florentine Kastner Institut für Zeitgeschichte Wien Ludwig Boltzmann-Institut für Kriegsfolgenforschung Graz


British occupation camps in Austria after World War II

The “Marcus W. Orr Internment Camp” in the US zone of Allied occupation – one of the commonly termed “Denazification Camps” – is a well-known part of Austrian history. Much less well-known are the three camps in the British zone that existed between 1945 and 1948. Altogether approximately 10 000 individuals who had formerly had an active role at middle- to high-level National Socialist service
grades were detained in the Wetzelsdorf, Wolfsberg and Weissenstein Camps. Military documents of British troops in Germany and Austria showed that arrest and detention at an “occupation camp” was part of the security and transitional justice procedures and initially an element of the re-education plans within the western allied denazification strategy. Within the camps, the detainees received virtually no information about their individual situation. The ensuing atmosphere of frustration caused a shift in self-perceptions “from delinquent to victim”. Using the tool of oral history, numerous interviews with contemporary witnesses have provided an insight into how detainees remember daily camp routines as well as highlight differences between female and male recollections. The paper concludes that certain memory characteristics (Topoi) were deduced out of the past years and have been passed on to later generations.

Keywords: Denazification, occupation in Austria 1945–1955, British occupation camps, internment, topoi, oral history