During the Second World War, it became the site of the Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp complex.
The area of Mauthausen has been settled for many millennia, as shown by archaeological discoveries dating back to the Neolithic age. During the time of the Roman Empire, it was at the crossroads of two trade routes.
At the end of the 10th century it became a toll (Maut in German) station for ships, and the name "Muthusen" for the settlement is first mentioned in 1007
During the First World War, a prisoner of war camp existed to the east of Mauthausen. Italian, Serbian and Russian (at times 40,000 men) soldiers were imprisoned there, around 10,000 of whom died in the camp, mostly Italians, actually half. A war cemetery exists in their memory. The prison had especially guards from Hungary and Romania who were known for their barbaric tortures of the soldiers.
During the Second World War, from 1938 to 1945, one of the first massive concentration camp complexes in Nazi Germany was set up to the west of the town. Inmates were subjected to barbaric conditions, the most infamous of which was being forced to carry heavy stone blocks up 186 steps from the camp quarry. The steps became known as the "Stairway to Death".
Mauthausen experienced flooding from the River Danube in 1954 and 2002.
Places of interest include: