Criticism at Opening of Graz Holocaust Museum

The City of Graz. © Graz Tourismus, Foto: Werner Krug

The City of Graz. © Graz Tourismus, Foto: Werner Krug

Graz – The opening of the “first Holocaust- and Tolerance Center” in Austria at the Graz Synagogue on Monday was also accompanied by criticism coming from within the Jewish community in Graz. As the Standard reported, the aftermath of the merger of the Jewish Community for Styria, Carinthia and the Burgenland with the Jewish Community for Vienna and Lower Austria in 2013 has seen some friction. Not all members of the old Jewish Community Graz (IKG Graz) were admitted into the newly established Association (IKV Graz), whose president turned out to be Ruth Kaufmann.

Desire for a Neutral Location

Some Jewish families have since felt left out of the synagogue, which –just like the Jewish cemetery- can only be visited on appointment. Karen Engel, once a long-term local Minister for religious Affairs and today spokesperson of the “Jewish Forum” in Graz, criticized on Monday that “it is dubious that the Holocaust is being equated with Judaism. We would have loved a neutral location.” In addition, the Holocaust also affected other members of society, not just Jews, even if they were the largest group.”

Also, Engels thinks it is “preposterous to inflate a small exhibit into a museum and absurd that one even has to register weeks in advance in order to see it. “ The exhibit, which will also be available for schools, tells the story of two Jewish youngsters from Graz: Adele Kurzweil, who was murdered in the concentration camp, and Bert Kaufmann, Ruth Kaufmann’s father, who survived.