State Secretary Hans Winkler on Austria’s Assuming the Chairmanship of the International Holocaust Task Force

Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs (03/14/2008)

Vienna,– "What we need is a genuine culture of remembrance, a targeted and exemplary remembrance of the causes and sheer unthinkable consequences of National Socialism. In addition to an unbiased engagement with the facts of the past, it is also necessary to show all victims and cases of injustice due respect and sympathy. We must become aware of our history and learn for the present and the future," said State Secretary Hans Winkler, commenting on Austria’s assuming the Chairmanship of the International Holocaust Task Force.

In 2001, Austria became a member of the International Holocaust Task Force, a task force founded at the initiative of Swedish Prime Minister Goran Persson for international cooperation in the field of education, research and remembrance of the holocaust. The ITF currently comprises 25 member states, including Israel and the USA, and almost all European countries affected by the holocaust. They all are committed to the Stockholm Declaration and advocate the implementation of national policies and programs to support education and research on the holocaust and its commemoration. Numerous governmental and non-governmental organizations are also members of the Task Force.

"We want to emphasize and strengthen our commitment to raising awareness of the holocaust, which is also highly acknowledged at the international level, by taking over the chair of the Holocaust Task Force ten years after it was founded. In spite of all efforts a lot still remains to be done as far as the public is concerned," Winkler stressed.
Offering cooperation to countries that want to develop holocaust education or research programs is one of the International Holocaust Task Force’s major activities. To this end it is possible to carry out long-term liaison projects with the International Holocaust Task Force.

The State Secretary also presented the team making up Austria’s chair, namely Ferdinand Trauttmansdorff, Chairman and Head of the International Law Office, Hannah Lessing, Head of Delegation and Secretary General of the Austrian National Fund, other representatives of the Foreign Ministry, the Federal Ministry of Education, Art and Culture, the Austrian National Fund, the Austrian Academy of Sciences, the Documentation Center of Austrian Resistance and the "" project. "The chairmanship is a challenge both in terms of content and organization, and Austria is taking up this challenge with great commitment and pleasure. Changes can only be effected by a strong and committed team, and these are changes which have to take place in people’s minds," concluded the State Secretary.

Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs
Katharina Swoboda
Office of the State Secretary
Tel.: ++43 (0) 50 1150-3469