Graz Holocaust Center to Open

German original: Grazer Holocaust-Zentrum vor Eroeffnung
ORF Steiermark, November, 6, 2015


Graz Holocaust Center to Open

The first Holocaust and Tolerance Center will open in Graz on Monday. The “House of Names,” which will commemorate the NS genocide, is housed within the synagogue.

Old newspapers from the Holocaust era, smashed windows of Jewish shops, signs reading “Entering prohibited for Jews and dogs,” many pictures of Jews who perished in the Holocaust: 70 years after the end of WW II, the Holocaust and Tolerance Center in the Graz Synagogue is designed to process the reign of terror of the National Socialists and its devastating effects on humankind.

Memorial and Prevention

Ruth Kaufman, president of the Jewish Community Graz, initiated the project and aims to keep the memories alive in order to prevent such atrocities from ever happening again: “On one hand, we erected a commemoration site for victims without a face or a name; on the other hand, we educate the youth and students about the Holocaust in order to prevent something like this from ever happening again.”

Such centers already exist in the United States, Poland, Germany and in France. The fact that it took 70 years to set up such a center in Austria is puzzling to Kaufmann herself: “Maybe it is just difficult to face one’s own history. I believe it is good for Graz, Styria, and Austria as a whole to process this trauma.”

Against Prejudice and in Support of Tolerance

The guided tours that originate within the synagogue will use didactical methods, modern technology and pedagogically sophisticated design not just to commemorate the victims of the Holocaust, but, according to Kaufmann, also to reduce prejudices and call for tolerance.

On the Trail of Adele and Bertl

The Holocaust is narrated following the story of two Jewish children from Graz, Adele and Bertl. Adele is murdered in a concentration camp, Bertl survives – he is Ruth Kaufmann’s father: “Bertl and Adele accompany the visitor through the stages of the Holocaust, beginning with the “Anschluss,” the pogrom, and then on to Auschwitz.”

The Holocaust Center was financed through public and private funds, including participation by the state of Styria and the city of Graz. The opening is scheduled for Monday, November 9, 2015 – the day of the annual commemoration of the Night of Broken Glass of 1938.

Link: “Haus der Namen”