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Commemorative Act for the victims of National Socialism in Vienna and Mauthausen

Federal Chancellor Kurz: We actively support Jewish life in Austria and are determined to fight against all forms of antisemitism

Commemorative Act for the victims of National Socialism in Vienna and Mauthausen © BKA/Arno Melicharek

"We, the Federal Government, also want to remember the darker chapters of our history in this special memorial year. That is why this year, for the first time, we are holding this act of remembrance for the victims of National Socialism at the Monument Against War and Fascism," said Federal Chancellor Sebastian Kurz during the wreath-laying ceremony with Federal President Alexander Van der Bellen and Vice-Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache at Alfred Hrdlicka's Monument Against War and Fascism. "Only those who remember can acknowledge the horrors of history. Only those who remember can learn from the mistakes of the past. Only those who remember can do better today and in the future," continued the Chancellor.

Federal President Alexander Van der Bellen and Vice-Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache also spoke at the Monument. In his speech, Vice-Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache said: "I would like to pay tribute to all those who suffered a terrible fate during this period – even the memories of this time leave unforgettably deep wounds. This place has a special symbolism. In front of us are the Gates of Violence. "The Gates of Violence" are carved from Mauthausen granite, commemorating the thousands of prisoners who lost their lives on the infamous "Stairs of Death" in the quarry at Mauthausen concentration camp."

Commemorative Act for the victims of National Socialism in Vienna and Mauthausen © BKA/Arno Melicharek

Federal Chancellor Sebastian Kurz also referred to the liberation of Mauthausen concentration camp in his speech at the Monument: "73 years ago yesterday, Mauthausen concentration camp was liberated. Mauthausen is the place where National Socialism in Austria probably showed its ugliest face."

"We must never forget that conditions in Mauthausen were seen as particularly inhumane. We must never forget that almost 100,000 people were killed there: people with disabilities, Roma and Sinti, homosexuals, people with different political views and resistance fighters. Above all, however, we must never forget that a large number of Jewish fellow citizens were tortured and killed in Mauthausen in the most atrocious way. I can very clearly remember my first visit to the Mauthausen Memorial. To this day, I am still shaken by the level of cruelty endured by the people there. The former concentration camp at Mauthausen is a fateful place for Austria. It reminds us that between 1938 and 1945, Austrians were victims but also perpetrators," continued the Chancellor. "Only when all people in the world can live in freedom is the monument of Mauthausen's survivors completed," concluded the Federal Chancellor in his speech at the Monument Against War and Fascism.

After the wreaths had been laid at the Monument Against War and Fascism, Federal Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and members of the government took part in the International Memorial and Liberation Ceremony at the Mauthausen Memorial. To commemorate the 73rd anniversary of the liberation of the concentration camp, the Mauthausen Committee Austria (MKÖ), the Austrian Association of Mauthausen Survivors (ÖLM) and the Comité International de Mauthausen (CIM) had organised a joint memorial event. In the 2018 memorial year, the event focused in particular on the topic of "Escape and Home" and on the eradication of Austria in 1938. The ceremony – the world's largest memorial and liberation ceremony – began, once again this year, with the reading of the Mauthausen oath in various languages. The climax of the commemoration came when – similar to the first liberation ceremonies of the concentration camp survivors – all participants took part in the departure parade at the end of the memorial ceremony. 

During a wreath-laying ceremony at the "Am Spiegelgrund" memorial, Federal Ministers Juliane Bogner-Strauß and Gernot Blümel also remembered the victims of National Socialism. In the years following Austria's annexation in 1938, the psychiatric hospital "Am Steinhof" – now the Otto Wagner Hospital in Vienna's 14th district – became the Vienna centre of Nazi medical killing. The memorial commemorates the children and young people murdered in the youth welfare institution "Am Spiegelgrund" in a programme the Nazis called euthanasia.

Photos of the events on 6 May 2018 can be accessed free of charge via the photo service of the Austrian Federal Chancellery.

Documents


Link: Original in German: Gedenken an die Opfer des Nationalsozialismus in Wien und Mauthausen