To the Editor: I read with great interest the article about the restoration of the Abbey in Melk, Austria.
I read it with great interest because I was a prisoner in the concentration camp in Melk during World War II, if only for a few months between my long stay in Auschwitz, my quarantine in Mauthausen and my liberaton at Ebensee, also in Austria.
What many people do not know is that Melk, like Ebensee, had sizeable tunnels dug into the surrounding granite mountains in which whole factories had been built in which we, prisoners and civilians alike, worked on assembling V-2's.
When my wife and I visited Melk a few years ago, we could not find a marker anywhere that a KZ (Konzentrationslager, concentration camp) had existed there. When at last I went to the police headquarters (it was a Sunday, I recall), I asked the policeman on duty where the KZ had been. He insisted that none had ever existed. When I forcefully insisted that I had been a prisoner there, he began to blush and stammer, and then apologized for ''having misunderstood'' me.
On our evacuation from Melk sometime in March 1945, we were marched to the Danube, where we were loaded on waiting barges and shipped upstream to Linz, whence we marched (really a slow walk or shuffle) to KZ Ebensee, by way of Gmunden on the Traunsee. At Linz we were each given two loaves of ersatz bread, and that was all the food we had for the next three to four days. No liquids were ever provided us and we slept in the woods alongside the road when dusk arrived.
The Abbey is indeed a very beautiful structure and I enjoyed visiting it. However, the citizens of Melk ought, I believe, to commemorate those who died there and were murdered there during those horrible Nazi-era days. MAX R. GARCIA
San Francisco