A Wall of Names for the Victims of the Shoa in Vienna

Die Presse, March 11, 2018

German Original: https://diepresse.com/home/innenpolitik/5386031/Namensmauer-fuer-ShoahOpfer-in-Wien

The government wants to create a place of remembrance with (..) the names of all Jewish victims in Vienna’s inner city.

In Paris and Brussels similar memorials already exist – now Vienna is set to get a place of remembrance for the Jewish victims of National Socialism, mentioning each one by name. On the occasion of the Anschluss, Austria’s incorporation into Nazi Germany 80 years ago, the federal government will formally approve such an initiative at the Ministerial Council on Wednesday.

The planned memorial is to be erected “at a central space in Vienna’s inner city” according to the Council of Ministers. A wall of names for some 66,000 Austrian Jews who were murdered during the Shoah is set to stand in the center of the memorial. This is to underline that they were not an anonymous mass, but individuals with personal histories. All names of the Jewish victims are to be listed.

There is no specific timetable yet. The new memorial is to be realized quickly, according to the office of Federal Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (OVP). Kurt Y. Tutter, who once fled from Austria to Canada via Belgium, while his parents were deported and murdered, has been lobbying with his non-profit Gedenkstaette Namensmauern (Memorial Wall of Names) for such a memorial for some 20 years and has already been included in the process. Now talks are to commence with the City of Vienna and other partners.

 “We want to create a lasting sign of remembrance and commemoration for the 66,000 Austrian Jews who fell victim to the NS terror regime,” said Kurz. “The memory of our expelled and murdered fellow Jewish citizens has to remain a constant obligation,” said Vice-Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache (FPO).

Christian Failure

The Catholic Church meanwhile conceded a “Christian failure” in the light of the Anschluss. The bishops at the time “did not properly realize and label the consequences”. The fact that they did not confront the power of hatred more decisively is hurting until today, according to a statement by the episcopal conference.  “Centuries of religiously dressed-up anti-Judaism” led Christians not to oppose anti-Semitism decisively enough. 

Therefore, there is a need to be constantly aware and to strongly support the values of Human Rights, democracy and the common good.