Mauthausen visitor wears prisn number
Mauthausen visitor wears prisn numberReuters

Holocaust survivors expressed outrage Wednesday after an Austrian prosecutor appeared to justify an article in a far-right magazine calling people liberated from the Mauthausen concentration camp a criminal "plague."

An article in the July/August edition of Die Aula contended that a not insignificant number of camp inmates went on crime sprees after they were freed at the end of World War II. 

"The fact that a non-negligible portion of freed prisoners became a plague on people is deemed by the judiciary to have been proven and is only disputed today by concentration camp fetishists," the article said.

According to Reuters, prosecutors in Graz initially opened criminal charges against the article's author for Holocaust denial and inciting hatred - but later dropped the case. 

"It is plausible that the release of several thousand people from the Mauthausen concentration camp presented a burden for the affected areas of Austria," the prosecutor's office said in a recent statement. 

"It cannot be ruled out that, in the context of the liberation, criminal activities...were engaged in by those freed," it added. "Criminals were among those imprisoned (in the camps)."

The International Mauthausen Committee (CIM), an umbrella group of Holocaust survivor organizations, denounced the Graz prosecutors' statement, blasting it as "a lumping-together plucked out of thin air."

"It is not disputed that food necessary for survival was procured in a few cases against the will of the affected local population," the CIM explained. "But to describe the term 'plague' as appropriate as a result not only flies in the face of historical fact but also ridicules concentration camp victims who are still alive."

Almost 200,000 people were sent to Mauthausen during the course of the Holocaust. Half of the camp's prisoners perished there.