Elia Steidl served as an Austrian Holocaust Memorial Servant (Gedenkdiener) at the Virginia Holocaust Museum from 2012-2013.
My name is Elia Steidl and I spent one year at the Virginia Holocaust Museum as the Austrian Holocaust Memorial Servant. Originally founded in 1998 by Andreas Maislinger, there are now three types of services offering the opportunity to work as a “Memorial Servant:” Austrian Holocaust Memorial Service, Austrian Social Service and Austrian Peace Service.
Andreas Flaig served as an Austrian Holocaust Memorial Servant (Gedenkdiener) at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.
“Military or civilian service?” Just like almost every other 18 year old male Austrian I asked myself this question during my final year in high school.
After having decided against military service, I started to do some research on possible institutions where I could spend my nine months of civilian service. By coincidence I came across the website of the “Verein Gedenkdienst” (Austrian Holocaust Memorial Service), which sends more than 20 young Austrians to Holocaust-related museums, research institutions or retirement homes all around the world. Browsing through the organization’s website, I realized that this program is what I was looking for – a program, where I could learn about history, where I could fight racism and anti-Semitism, and, where I could help to remember the victims of the Holocaust.