Federal President: NS Victims as a “History Lesson” for Rosenkranz

Austrian Press Agency (APA) (04/20/10)

Event by “Letter to the Stars” sends a “warning against xenophobia”

Vienna – As a “warning against xenophobia, prejudice and propaganda,” young people placed ten thousand fliers with names of Austrian NS victims of Jewish belief upon Vienna’s Ballhausplatz. By doing so, one hoped to show that “where it leads to when a world view cements together ntolerance and arrogance toward others,” remarked event organizer Josef Neumayer from “A Letter to the Stars.”

The event is aimed at all those “who haven’t learned or refuse to learn in school about Austria’s dark past,” said Neumayer playing on the contentious words of the Austrian Freedom Party’s candidate for president, Barbara Rosenkranz.

Participating organizations included, among others, the Boy Scouts, Catholic Youth, Critical School Girls Campaign, the Student Association, Vienna Relief Organization, Mauthausen Committee of Carinthia, the Muslim Youth and the Jewish-Austrian University Students.

The young people weighted down the fliers with stones - which partly came from the quarry of the former Mauthausen concentration camp – and placed them before the building housing Austria’s federal president. The event was carried out amidst heavy gusts of wind and intermittent rain as if it were an “omen that the names be distributed across the city,” said Neumayr.

Also present at the event were survivors of concentration camps. “That is a different Austria,” commented Rudolf Gelbard, and “that means a lot to me.” Former EU commissioner Franz Fischler, who happened to walk by, found the idea “brilliant,” because “we in Austria we need a conscience.”

The event triggered criticism from the Austrian Freedom Party: Secretary General Herbert Kickl said in a statement that the “importance of remembrance of the victims of National Socialism” was “entirely undisputed,” that the “history lesson for Rosenkranz” was, however, “directly connected to the presidential elections.”

If the intention was to “humanly, morally and politically discredit” an “impeccably democratic candidate” shortly before an election, then the event’s organizers should be criticized of “abusing remembrance of NS victims and thereby the victims themselves,” and this was “reprehensible.”