Food by VICE

Turns Out, Building a Sausage Factory on a Former Nazi Labor Camp Isn't the Best Idea

Heirs to the original landowners are now challenging the legality of the sale to the sausage company.

by Alex Swerdloff
Feb 17 2017, 6:00pm

Austria has had something of a "wall of silence" surrounding the former Nazi forced labor camps within its borders. Back in 2015, a conference was convened to shed light on the Liebenau labor camp—where dozens of Jews died—a site that had gone unknown and without commemoration for decades.

Now, the land where another Nazi labor camp sat has quietly been sold to Austrian company Handl Tyrol, which intends to turn the location into a bacon and sausage factory. Locals and heirs to the family that originally owned the land are not pleased.

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Decades ago, the 25-acre site in Haiming, a town located in the Austrian state of Tyrol, near Innsbruck, was purchased for next to nothing by the Nazis and then used as a labor camp, where prisoners were forced to build a dam for a hydroelectric power plant.

Heirs to the original landowners are now challenging the legality of the sale to the sausage company. They say their ancestors were forced to sell the land at very low rates to the Nazis, and did so only on the condition that the land be used for the construction of a power plant—but no power plant was ever built. The labor camp was dissolved after World War II, and the land remained unused. Recently, Austrian power company Tiwag announced the land would be sold to one of Austria's largest sausage companies.

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MUNCHIES reached out to Handl Tyrol for comment, but has yet to hear back.

Whether the heirs will be successful in their challenge to the proposed sale remains to be seen. A commission following World War II validated the sale of the property to Tiwag, and said the heirs did not deserve any further compensation.

Can Tiwag now sell that land to be used to make some very un-Kosher sausage and bacon? Tiwag says it doesn't see why not, but Wilhelm Markus, an environmental activist, is dubious. In his words, Tiwag "has not worked through its dark brown past and it still sits on Nazi assets today."

Handl Tyrol
sausage factory