Even during the last weeks before liberation, the SS continued to kill sick, exhaust-ed, and politically undesirable prisoners. On 2 and 3 May 1945, the SS left the camp and 50 members of the Vienna Firefighter Police were assigned to guard the camp. Power was slowly assumed by the International Prisoners’ Committee, which had been illegal up to then.
On the morning of May 5, armored troops of the 11th division of the 3rd US Army reached the municipality of Mauthausen, where a large amount of SS-members was captured. In his car, Louis Haefliger, a delegate of the International Red Cross met a patrol of the 11th armored division and showed them the way to the camps of Gusen I and II. Around noon, he reached the Mauthausen concentration camp together with two US armored reconnaissance cars. When the cars reached the camp’s parade ground, the prisoners burst into loud cheers.
At the Ebensee concentration camp, national committees and an international prisoners’ committee had been formed as well. Camp guard members had informed the prisoners that camp commander Anton Ganz was planning to round up the prisoners in the underground tunnel and kill them through explosion. During the morning roll call on May 5 the prisoners collectively refused SS-orders to go to the tunnel. In the afternoon hours the Volkssturm was ordered to guard the camp. In the morning of May 6 American army units liberated the concentration camp of Ebensee.