Government Announces Wiesenthal Center

Der Standard (03/12/2008)

After many years of reluctance and postponement, the Wiesenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies will move into Vienna’s Strozzi Palace. Costs will be shared by the Federation, City of Vienna and the organization responsible for establishing the Center.

Vienna – For years requests have been made for a Wiesenthal Center, but until now the government remained vague in terms of its possible financing and postponed its decision. But now the time has actually come. Federal Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer and Vice Chancellor Wilhelm Molterer announced on Wednesday, following a meeting of the Council of Ministers, that Austria will soon have a Simon Wiesenthal Center. Head of Austria’s Social Democratic Party spoke of an essential contribution to Holocaust research, while the Head of the People’s Party spoke of a “warning for ‘never again,’ for ‘never forgetting.’

Financing Details Still Open
The Wiesenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies will be housed in the Strozzi Palace located in Vienna’s Josefstädterstraße, and the costs for financing the organization will be taken over by the Federation, the City of Vienna and the organization responsible for establishing the Center, each sharing one-third of the total amount. Association head Anton Pelinka spoke of taking a “large step toward a day imbued with symbolical significance.”  The details of financing the Center are, however, still open. Originally one assumed that yearly costs for running the organization would total 2.5 million euros.

Both heads of government emphasized that Austria viewed itself all too long as solely a victim of National Socialism. Many had, however, cheered the Anschluss and actively participated in crimes against humanity, emphasized Gusenbauer. Also Molterer said that for a long time Austria refused to admit having been more than just a victim, thereby making everyone responsible as perpetrator.