„Holocaust Will Never Be a Concluded Issue for Austria”

Die Presse, January 3, 2017
German Original: http://diepresse.com/home/politik/innenpolitik/5148847/Holocaust-wird-fuer-Oesterreich-nie-abgeschlossene-Geschichte-sein?from=suche.intern.portal

State Secretary Duzdar visited the Holocaust Memorial site Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, as well as the Club of Austrian retirees in Tel Aviv.

State Secretary [Nota: Deputy Minister] at the Federal Chancellery Muna Duzdar (SPÖ) visited the Holocaust Memorial Yad Vashem in Jerusalem on Tuesday, where she laid down a wreath and signed the guestbook. Duzdar sees it as her vocation and duty to raise awareness and to pass remembrance on to the next generation, she explained. Before, Duzdar visited the Club of Austrian retirees in Tel Aviv. The number of Holocaust survivors continues to decline, at this point in time there are barely 1,000 still alive, explained Gideon Eckhaus, the club’s chairman. Many victims of the Holocaust found a new home in Israel.

„The Holocaust will never be a concluded issue for Austria – the goal is to ensure that something like it never happens again,“ Duzdar said. „I hope so,“ added Eckhaus. Duzdar did mention her Palestinian roots, and, in view of the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, added that she has a „vision“ of a future peaceful coexistence of two states and a prosperous Middle East region.

Lukewarm Relationship with Austria

In their club house, the pensioners do gymnastics together, listen to concerts and joke around – in their native German. Many of the seniors came here as children and juveniles, often by themselves, like Zwi Nigal, who was born in Vienna 94 years ago. He witnessed the Anschluss at the age of 14. He incautiously went to Heldenplatz to hear Adolf Hitler speak. Soon thereafter that was not possible anymore, according to Nigal, since every Jew was already recognizable. In high school in the Zirkusgasse in Vienna’s Second District, the Jews were separated from the other children, „and the crucifix in the classroom was replaced by a Hitler portrait.“ He was lucky to be sent to Palestine in 1939, where he was received as a farmer’s son in a Jewish settlement. At the age of 18, Zwi volunteered for the British Army and fought at Tarvis when the war ended. There, he met refugees whom he could tell „there are still Jews around and we are waiting for you.“

Uri Ben Rehav was born Willi Schwarz in Vienna in 1931. He had a happy childhood until 1938, when things became more difficult. „In 1942 things got serious, I came to Theresienstadt,“ he remembers his time in the concentration camp. „I survived.“ He lived in several refugee camps afterwards until coming to Israel. His relationship to Austria has been „lukewarm“ over the years, the Holocaust survivor said. This has recently improved though, as his favorite grandchild lives happily in Salzburg now – „the circle is complete“, he says.