Commemorating the Liberation of Mauthausen Concentration Camp

Austrian Federal Chancellery (05/13/2008)

Leading personalities of the Republic of Austria commemorated the youngest victims of the Nazi regime under the motto, “I have never been a child“ and celebrated the Memorial Day against Violence and Racism on May 5, 2008. The ceremony held in commemoration of the 63rd Anniversary of the Liberation of the Mauthausen concentration camp took place in the festive hall (“Reichsratssitzungssaal”) of the Houses of Parliament. Among the attendees were not only President Heinz Fischer, members of the government and Parliament and representatives of the religious communities, but also numerous Holocaust survivors.
In her statement Speaker of Parliament Barbara Prammer reminded the audience of the fact that Austria had confronted its past only at a very late stage and “upon international request.” President of the Federal Council Helmut Kritzinger stressed that those still having to live with NS crimes should be supported. However, violence and racism were not “phenomena of the past“.

The victims of National Socialism were commemorated also at Heldenplatz in Vienna, where Holocaust survivors and their families who had been invited by Austrian pupils in the framework of the school project, “A Letter to the Stars,“ gathered. Contemporary witnesses reminded one of the horrors of displacement. President Fischer, Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer and Vice-Chancellor Wilhelm Molterer praised the commitment of the pupils and the willingness of the victims to share their painful memories with young people. In 1945 Austria had been re-built by the people who had sworn “Never again”, Gusenbauer stated. But most importantly, Israel had been erected from the moral debris of the Holocaust and celebrated its 60th birthday this year. “I am happy and proud that you continue to live this idea 63 years after the end of WWII and the liberation. I congratulate the state of Israel,“ the Chancellor said.