The first three articles of this summer issue are dedicated to outstanding individuals: Ambassador Ernst Sucharipa, who was a tireless negotiator on restitution matters; Ari Rath, former publisher and editor-in-chief of the Jerusalem Post; and Stuart Eizenstat, former Deputy Secretary of the Treasury and Special Representative for Holocaust Issues.
You will find a press release by the Israelite Religious Community of Vienna welcoming the agreement that offered them an additional 18.2 million Euros for confiscated property/assets during the NS era. The press release is followed by two statements on the matter, by the Austrian Federal Chancellor and the Austrian Foreign Minister, respectively.
The research work of the Austrian Historical Commission has been completed. The result is a collection of 49 volumes with altogether 17,000 pages weighing 50 pounds and measuring eight feet in length.
Read about the results of the OSCE Conference on anti-Semitism in Spain; and the Israeli Ambassador’s appeal to Austria and the European Union. The U.S. Administration congratulated Austria’s government on the decision to submit the legal dispute over six paintings by Gustav Klimt to arbitration in Austria.
A group of Viennese has started an interesting project of personal remembrance. On the occasion of the inauguration of the new Theodor Herzl Museum in Jerusalem, the Austrian State Secretary for the Arts, Franz Morak, met with Israeli President Katzav and the Speaker of the Knesset, Reuven Rivlin. Peter Singer’s fascinating memoirs on his grandfather, David Oppenheim, Pushing Time Away: My Grandfather and the Tragedy of Jewish Vienna, have come out in the Europa Verlag.
Austrian Press and Information Service
Israelite Religious Community Offers Condolences To the Passing of Ambassador Sucharipa
Original Text Service (OTS) (06/23/05)
Austria’s Jewish Communities are shocked by the news of the sudden death of Ambassador Ernst Sucharipa.
On behalf of the Federal Chancellor, Dr. Sucharipa was involved in negotiations on restitution during 2000 - 2001 and worked closely together with Jewish members on matters affecting them. In the course of numerous discussions, he proved to us not only his profound knowledge of the material but also his understanding of the concerns of the victims and their descendants.
In appreciation of Dr. Sucharipa, the Israelite Religious Community would like to express to his family and friends our deepest sympathy. May his memory be eternally blessed.
The Israelite Religious Society in Austria:
Dr. Ariel Muzicant, President
Dr. Avshalom Hodik, Secretary General
Erika Jakubovits, Executive Director
For additional information please call the Israelite Religious Community at: 011 431-53104-0
Ari Rath Becomes Austrian Again
Austrian Press Agency (APA) (06/05/05)
Plassnik presented citizenship to the former Editor-in-Chief of the "Jerusalem Post"
Jerusalem - At the age of eighty the former editor-in-chief of the Jerusalem Post, Ari Rath, is once again an Austrian. At a reception in Jerusalem, Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik presented Rath with a "surprise gift" documenting citizenship. After having previously declined citizenship in the past, Rath submitted an application for naturalization in May of 2005.
Born in 1925 in Vienna, Rath was forced to emigrate in 1938 and went to Palestine where he gained initial journalistic experience as an assistant correspondent to the Special Meeting of the United Nations in New York that was called to solve the Palestinian problem. From 1975 to 1989, he was publisher and editor-in-chief of the Jerusalem Post, which under Rath represented a liberal line. To this day he is still considered one of the most distinguished journalists in Israel.
Rath expressed concern to members of the Austrian press about the present tension between Ariel Sharon’s government and radical settlers over the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. He feared that among the settlers some of the extremists could cause great damage.
Federal Chancellor Schüssel Awarded Stuart Eizenstat The Grand Decoration of Honor in Gold
Original Text Service (OTS) (05/03/05)
Vienna - Federal Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel bestowed the Grand Decoration of Honor in Gold upon former U.S. Deputy Secretary of the Treasury and diplomat, Stuart Eizenstat. In his capacity as Special Representative for Holocaust Issues, Eizenstat was instrumental in bringing about the Austrian Reconciliation Fund that came into existence in the year 2000.? "Today we celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Second Republic, the end of World War II and the liberation of the concentration camps. It is a year of reflection and it is the right moment to celebrate once again with Stuart Eizenstat the realization of the Reconciliation Fund," said Schüssel in his eulogy. He emphasized Stuart Eizenstat’s landmark efforts in achieving late justice for the victims of National Socialism.
Chancellor Schüssel recalled the infinite number of negotiations that finally led to the successful conclusion of the Reconciliation Fund. With the Washington Agreement that transpired with the help of Eizenstat, the essential gaps in post-war Austrian legislation were closed. The Federal Chancellor said: "During this time, Stuart Eizenstat revealed not only his fine diplomatic and legal skills, but also his tremendously dedicated commitment to the difficult issues involving restitution. Together we succeeded in changing the myth that everything possible was done which could have been done for the victims and forced laborers."
*Some 30,000 victims from 78 countries have been compensated over the past ten years. In addition, humanitarian as well as research projects are also continuing to be financed.
Eizenstat: The World Has Still Not Fully Learned The Lessons of the Holocaust
The Austrian Parliament (05/04/2005)
In terms of human rights, Austria can call the world to task.
Vienna - "It is clear that the world has still not fully learned the lessons of Mauthausen and of the Holocaust when we consider the killing fields of Cambodia, the ethnic cleansing in the Balkans, the genocide in Rwanda, and now another in Darfur. Austria has the moral stature to speak to the world." With these words, the former U.S. Under Secretary of State, Stuart Eizenstat, who contributed considerably over the past few years to solving restitution issues, closed his speech in Parliament’s historical assembly hall. Eizenstat was the main speaker at the Commemoration Day Against Violence and Racism.
In a thank you speech eliciting sustained applause from the audience, Eizenstat recalled the liberation of Mauthausen sixty years ago as well as the contribution made by the United States toward Austria’s independence. Around 200,000 people were kept as prisoners at Mauthausen; between 105,000 and 119,000 of them were exterminated, and about one third of them were Jews. Mauthausen, opened a few months after the Anschluß, served a double purpose: Elimination of political prisoners and Jews as well as the extraction of profit through the use of slave laborers. Within the entire network of Nazi concentration camps, Mauthausen was designated as the only Class III camp (entailing "extermination by work," and "return not desired.") The cruelty of the Nazi guards remains to this day beyond human comprehension.
"How then do we properly honor the victims who died, those fortunate enough to survive, and their families and at the same time make this special Commemoration Day against Violence and Racism relevant to today’s 21st century world?" Eizenstat asked. "We know we can’t restore the past. We cannot bring back to life musicians and writers, poets and artists, entrepreneurs, engineers and scientists, farmers and shopkeepers, ministers and rabbis and, yes, we can’t bring back to life mothers and fathers, and children never able to add their spark to the world. All of these people are irreplaceable."
"But, permit me to suggest three ways of remembering," continued Eizenstat, "in many of which Austria is taking the lead, and commendably so: First and foremost is to perpetuate the memory of those who suffered by telling the brutal and harsh truth of Mauthausen and of Austria’s complicated role in World War II. And this, Austria is now doing," Eizenstat stated. "Austria is not alone among nations in struggling with the passage of time to confront the past." He then added that it took his country, the United States, 40 years to come to terms with the forced internment of Japanese-Americans in U.S. camps. And even more so, there was the long road towards the emancipation of American slaves. Too, we have only recently seen how Japan’s inability to fully face its past has caused tension throughout Asia, he contended.
For decades after the war, Austria did not confront its involvement in Nazi crimes because Austria "confirmed in assuming this attitude by the Moscow Declaration - viewed itself as "the first victim of Hitlerite aggression," Eizenstat continued. While no one can precisely date when Austrians began to face the full picture of their wartime involvement, there were two precipitating events, he maintained: The official reception of Reder after his discharge from imprisonment in Italy and the Waldheim debate. Then several courageous Austrian political and religious leaders acted out of conscience and conviction, Eizenstat continued, mentioning the names of Cardinal König, Federal Chancellor Vranitzky and Federal President Klestil. He, moreover, recalled the creation of the Historical Commission chaired by Clemens Jabloner, the unveiling of the Holocaust memorial in Vienna’s Judenplatz as well as the initiatives undertaken to teach young people about the Holocaust.
A second way of remembering is by doing justice to living survivors and the families of victims during their lifetimes and, beginning in the 1990s, Austria has done just that, said Stuart Eizenstat. The Holocaust was not only history’s gravest and most systematic genocide; it was also the greatest theft in history. Austria has made efforts to rectify this wrong, Eizenstat continued, making reference to the National Fund, which was created in 1995, well before there was international pressure. In addition, Austria was the first country to agree to contribute to a Reconciliation Fund for Nazi Victims; it was also the first country, and virtually the only one, to incorporate into its national legislation the Washington Principles on Art from the Washington Conference in 1997 dealing with looted art.
Eizenstat then spoke about the General Settlement Fund, the sum of which 200 million dollars, has not yet been disbursed because of the lack of "legal peace" for Austria in U.S. courts. "I hope that all the parties, including the U.S. judges responsible for this unconscionable postponement of justice, will be inspired by today’s commemoration to act immediately. I intend to intervene on my own in the case to stress the human dimension of the delay," Eizenstat announced.
However, he also added that it is critically important for Austria to rededicate itself to support and sustain the tiny but vibrant Jewish community that has emerged in the years after the war, contending that it is, moreover, painfully evident that anti-Semitism in Europe did not end with the Holocaust. All forms of anti-Semitism in Europe did not end with the Holocaust. All forms of anti-Semitism should be forcefully condemned and, where appropriate, punished.
The third way of remembering is to apply the lessons learned from the terrible crimes committed in Mauthausen by turning the Commemoration Day Against Violence and Racism into an agenda of action, Eizenstat concluded, mentioning Austria’s commitment to human rights as an example.
Press Statement of the Israelite Religious Community in Vienna
Israelite Religious Community
We want to thank all those who have made it possible to reach a satisfying agreement for all parties to the questions pending for a long time between the Kultusgemeinde and the Federal Government. First of all we want to thank the Federal Chancellor, Dr. Wolfgang Schüssel, followed by the President of the National Council, University Professor Dr. Andreas Khol, the members of the Board of the Reconciliation Fund, and last but not least, all those of good will who - openly or in the background - have paved the way for the agreement reached today.
In today’s meeting of the General Settlement Fund the decision has been taken that the Israelite Religious Community in Vienna will receive an amount of 18.2 million Euros in recognition of the losses and damages reported by the Jewish communities in Austria to the General Settlement Fund. In consideration of that, the Israelite Religious Community in Vienna will withdraw the applications submitted by it to the General Settlement Fund so that the total amount of General Settlement Fund which is limited to US$210 million will remain undiminished for the large number of the remaining applicants. This is in harmony with the repeated declarations by the Israelite Religious Community in Vienna that the total amount to the distributed shall exclusively benefit the individual victims of the National Socialist regime or their heirs. And, in addition, it shall also become possible to speed up the processing of the remaining applications and to thus allow for a quicker pay-out to the victims.
The Israelite Religious Community in Vienna also declares its intention to withdraw from all matters connected with the class action of "Whiteman, et. al. v. Republic of Austria, et. al." as "amicus curiae." The Israelite Religious Community in Vienna shall nevertheless continue to strive that the legal closure required for distributions from the General Settlement Fund will enter into force as soon as possible.
Schüssel: Additional Payments for Victims of National Socialism
Federal Chancellery Austria (05/18/05)
After the Council of Ministers meeting today, Federal Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel presented a comprehensive package of compensation and other measures for the victims of National Socialism. Among other things, this package provides for the annulment of NS court rulings. Mr. Schüssel explained that this did not mean amnesty but rather a basic cancellation of all NS verdicts.
A further point was a widening of scope on the Act Regarding Victims’ Welfare. Persons who were persecuted during the NS era for their sexual orientation or were considered "asocial," those who became victims of medical experiments or were subjected to sterilization will now also receive financial compensation. Applications for restitution claims must be submitted to the Ministry for Social Affairs. "As we have addressed the issue of NS injustice in the past by offering restitution to forced laborers who suffered under the Nazis, we will remedy this injustice by doing likewise," said the Chancellor.
A decision was also made for a one-time payment to be allotted to resistance fighters and victims of persecution. Based upon income, these payments range between 500 and 1,000 Euros. Financial payments to the widows of disabled war veterans will also be improved upon with a budget of 4 million Euros. Upon the initiative of the Minister of Social Affairs, about 15 million Euros will be appropriated for 50,000 so-called "Trümmerfrauen" or "rubble women," who will also receive one-time payments.
Plassnik: "Victims of National Socialism to Receive Payments from General Settlement Fund as Quickly as Possible"
Austrian Foreign Ministry (05/25/05)
Foreign Minister welcomes agreement between General Settlement Fund for victims of National Socialism and Jewish Community of Vienna
Vienna - "I welcome the resolution to make 18.2 million Euros available to the Israelite Religious Community of Vienna (IKG)," said Foreign Minister Plassnik in response to the agreement reached between the Board of Trustees of the General Settlement Fund and the Victims of National Socialism and the Jewish Community of Vienna. This resolution had been passed with a particular view to the interests of the surviving victims of National Socialist injustice, said the Minister, adding that the Jewish community of Vienna will not withdraw the claims it submitted to the General Settlement Fund."It is my great concern that elderly victims receive payment before the end of their lifetime," said Plassnik. "Another significant aspect of this resolution is that the IKG and the Federal Government will jointly advocate a swift settlement of the claims."
"The resolution could make an essential contribution to ensuring that the legal closure required for payments from the General Settlement Fund is now quickly established," the Foreign Minister went on. The only thing now standing in the way of the establishment of legal closure, and thus payment, is the class action suit filed in the USA. Following the agreement now reached, the IKG will discontinue its support of this suit and withdraw from the legal proceedings related to the issue.
"Already at this juncture, further consideration should be given to how payments to the claimants can be made as quickly as possible," added Plassnik. "Even though all claims have not yet been assessed, I am in favour of giving immediate consideration to possible ways and means of realizing advance payments to entitled persons."
Jabloner: Quickly Act on Restitution
Die Presse (05/19/2005)
The results of the Historical Commission now appear in book form
Vienna - Some 160 researchers, 49 volumes, 17,000 pages, 50 pounds, and 8 feet: The written results of the Historical Commission concerning stolen property by the National Socialists and restitution measures have not only set quantitative but also qualitative records. The reports, which were published in book form two years following their initial presentation, represent the most critically assembled review of the NS era and its aftermath.
One result of the initially published interim reports led to the negotiations on NS restitution. While the disbursement of financial payments to forced and slave laborers has been completed in accordance with the agreement of 2000, the 2002 Washington Agreement involving restitution for victims of NS confiscated property and financial assets has not yet been achieved. On the one hand, class action suits are still pending in the United States that are preventing legal peace; on the other hand, researching the individual applications submitted for restitution payments is proving to be extremely tough. Nonetheless, when these two matters are finally settled, the disbursement of payments can begin.
The Historical Commission’s president, Clemens Jabloner, used the presentation by Federal President Heinz Fischer as an appeal to quickly act on the outstanding restitution solution: "Only when the victims receive their money, will one be able to say that we have achieved a direct effect."
Publications by the Austrian Historical Commission: Oldenburg Publishing House, 27 volumes, 2,516 Euros; single volumes are available through the website: www.oldenbourg.at
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Conference on Anti-Semitism
Austrian Press Agency (APA) (06/09/2005)
Austria for More Efforts Made Towards Education
Head of Delegation Hans Winkler: Politicians should serve as models
Cordoba/Madrid - At the international anti-Semitism Conference of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Cordoba, Spain, Austria emphasized the need for greater efforts to be made in school education when fighting xenophobia and intolerance. "Education of our youth plays a large role in the struggle against anti-Semitic prejudice and xenophobia," explained Austrian Head of Delegation and Deputy Secretary General for Foreign Affairs, Hans Winkler, while speaking to the press.
Because of the positive experience Austria has had with its so-called programs of "educating for tolerance" in Austrian schools, Winkler added that Austria wished to speak about it at the OSCE conference. There are many reasons for xenophobia and intolerance, some revolving around anti-Semitism, the Middle East conflict or international terrorism which one cannot easily resolve. "We can only try to improve upon the situation and we do that by educating our youth in matters of tolerance," commented Winkler. He demanded also from the politicians that they play a stronger role in promoting tolerance - through their actions and in their speeches - thereby serving as models for people to emanate.
However, through the excellent initiatives in youth education directed toward more tolerance, one has already achieved a "model character," which is one of the reasons that Austria has relatively few problems with xenophobia and anti-Semitism. The integration of the Moslem community in Austria is, therefore, functioning very well. With such an approach, extremists among Moslem immigrants don’t have reason to develop. Also, conflicts such as the debate over headscarves in Germany and France fail to arise.
One proof of this is documented in the survey of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) presented at the OSCE conference, in which Austria was shown to have a decline in anti-Semitic prejudice. Also, in answer to the question whether Jews are more loyal to Israel than their own country, thirty-eight percent of those asked in 2005 said yes, whereas in 2004, it was still forty-six percent. Also, as to the opinion that Jews spoke too much about the Holocaust in comparison to the previous year, the percentage fell from fifty-four to forty-six.
The survey, which has been conducted throughout twelve countries, concluded that even in 2005 the percentage rate of interviewees expressing anti-Semitic clichés, was still considerable. Hans Winkler is of the opinion that the number is "significant" enough to act as an incentive to fight harder against xenophobia, anti-Semitism and intolerance. The criticism of the OSCE that only about one-half of the fifty-five member states has honored its commitment in the fight again anti-Semitism and xenophobia is a matter which doesn’t include Austria. At the previous anti-Semitism conferences of the OSCE in Vienna and Berlin, all of the member states promised to register cases of xenophobia and intolerance to the OSCE in order to establish a system of control and information. Until now, only twenty-nine member states have forwarded that information onto the OSCE. "We have sent out data. However, we must still improve upon our statistics particularly in cases of crime having a background linked to racism," said Winkler.
According to the Head of Delegation, working together with politicians and experts from more than forty countries has shown that the OSCE can play a central role in fighting anti-Semitism and intolerance. Winkler emphasized that "anti-Semitism and intolerance" was one of the more important topics at the conference. "It is critical to avoid the gradual establishment of a hierarchy of discrimination," said Winkler. The Spanish hosts actually wanted to make anti-Semitism an exclusive topic at the OSCE conference.
Israel’s Ambassador Calls for Austria’s Patience Regarding the Middle East
Austrian Press Agency (APA) (05/19/2005)
Vienna - The Israeli Ambassador to Austria, Dan Ashbel, has appealed to Austria and the European Union (EU) for more patience in regards to events in the Middle East. "If patience and understanding are maintained, then the relationship between Israel and the EU will improve," said the ambassador during a discussion in Vienna. He emphasized that, following the collapse of the East Bloc, Austria shared borders with countries that wanted to become democracies. "We are not in this situation." The bordering Arabic countries, such as Jordan, Syria and Egypt, are not democratic and, therefore, a common basis for discussion is entirely lacking.
The EU must decide whether it wants only stability in the Middle East or also democracy, said Ashbel. The ambassador remarked critically that within the framework of the EU Mediterranean Partnership the EU has failed to treat all the Arabic nations equally. In order to avoid being criticized as imperialistic, the EU again and again tended to give in, for example in such issues as equality between the sexes.
The ambassador expressed Israel’s interest in maintaining a close relationship with the EU: "Israel and the EU should come together as closely as possible." However, he dismissed the idea of Israel’s establishing membership with the EU. Joining the EU would only strengthen the maxim of Arabic policy that Israel doesn’t really care about integrating into the Middle East region. "We should continue to try working together with the countries in the region."
The Israeli ambassador observes the development of Israeli-Palestinian relations with "careful optimism." Current discussions in Israel of plans to withdraw from Gaza and parts of the West Bank have "not been easy." Ashbel pointed out that the areas of the West Bank, from which Israel intends to withdraw, are even larger than that of the Gaza Strip. Originally, withdrawal was a decision made by Israel. He hopes, however, that the Palestinians will bear responsibility for this decision in the future. First comes the plan of the withdrawal, "then we will see how things develop." The question as to drawing a border is planned for the last phase of the peace process.
The ambassador claimed that he has followed this year’s commemoration events with great interest. "It is a fact that Austria is coming to terms with its past." On the other hand, there are still negative references toward Jews being made, such as those by parliamentary members, Siegfried Kampl and John Gudenus.
Austrians and Jews are historically bound together, in positive as well as negative aspects, said Ashbel. "We cannot cover up the graves; we can, however, build bridges." One important consideration has been the demand for economic relations. "One of my greatest tasks here as ambassador will be to open economic doors."
As a positive sign, Ashbel also mentioned the presence of State Secretary Frank Morak at the reopening of the Herzl Museum in Israel. This project has largely been financed with money from Austrian public sources.
Regarding the results of a recent survey whereby only 18 percent of all Austrians find Jews "likeable," Ashbel claimed that the question, itself, was wrong. "My concern is that such questions are still being asked by people in the 21st century. Such questions categorize people only in terms of the group." Every single person, however, is an individual in his own right.
Ambassador Nowotny Klimt Arbitration Welcomed by U.S. Side
Austrian Press Agency (APA) (05/24/05)
U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Burns congratulates Secretary General Kyrle
Washington - An agreement to end the long, drawn-out legal dispute conducted in the United States over six paintings by Gustav Klimt and to submit the dispute to arbitration in Austria is seen as very positive by Austria and the U.S. government, said the Austrian Ambassador to the U.S., Eva Nowotny. During the visit of the Secretary General of the Austrian Federal Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Johannes Kyrle to Washington, D.C., U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Nicholas Burns, congratulated him on this decision.
"It is a positive development also from the standpoint of the U.S. government," assured Ambassador Nowotny. The lawsuit has not weakened relations with the United States because during proceedings before the U.S. Supreme Court in the dispute over jurisdiction, the U.S. took a stand on the side of Austria as "amicus curiae," reminded Ms. Nowotny. Now the "open-ended issue," to which the diplomats at the Austrian Embassy have dedicated a lot of their time, has come to a close. Both parties, the claimant Maria Altmann and the defendant, the Republic of Austria, have agreed to binding arbitration.
The deadlines have been clearly determined: The 3rd arbitrator must be appointed by May 31, and the proceedings must be concluded before the arbitration panel by August 31. The decision will be made by November 1, by the three arbitrators, Attorney Andreas Nödl, Professor Walter Rechberger and the third person yet to be appointed. The costs of arbitration will be covered by Austria, and the decision made according to Austrian law.
The six valuable paintings by Gustav Klimt originally belonged to Ferdinand Bloch of the Bloch-Bauer family. His niece, Maria Altmann, claimed their return from the Republic of Austria. In June of 2004, the U.S. Supreme Court had ruled for the jurisdiction of the U.S. courts. Maria Altmann, eighty-nine years of age, lives in California since having fled the Nazis. She also welcomes the agreement.
House Historians in Servitengasse 6
Der Standard (06/22/05)
A group of Viennese simply wanted to know what happened in their house shortly after 1938
One day a group of elderly people happened to take up conversation with an older lady, says Alix Paulus. And suddenly the world became very small. That was two years ago in Ascona. The older lady came from New York; the group of elderly people from Luxemburg. But all of them knew the Servitengasse in Vienna.
The group from Luxemburg knew the street because their son, who is the husband of Alix Paulus, lives here. The woman from New York knew the street because her late husband, New Yorker art book publisher Paul Steiner, grew up here, lived here and - also as the assistant of Egon Friedell, worked here. That was until he had to flee back then after 1938.
But that a Paul Steiner once lived in the Servitengasse is something no one in Vienna seems to remember, said Mrs. Steiner because there are those who don’t wish to remember and there are those who were never told. And because there are large memorials and plates bearing inscriptions of famous people, but there are no traces of "normal" neighbors who happened to disappear.
The lady from New York, originally from Germany, was not aware of the fact that Alix Paulus, her husband Martin Kneip, and their neighbors, Barbara Kintaert and Peter Koppe, had just finished researching this matter. While chatting with each other, the question arose at some point how the Anschluß, expulsion and extermination of all who weren’t "Aryan" played out in house number six in the Servitengasse.
The evening soon passed but questions remained. Together with the historian, Birgit Johler, the group began to research what took place. Out of the twenty-eight people living in the house, fourteen simply "disappeared," after 1938.
Twenty-six Individual Fates
Thus, the stories and fates of twenty-six expulsions and murders were meticulously recorded without any big scene, media glitz or self-adulation.
And still, we were not satisfied with research alone, explained the house historians. In March, they held a benefit evening at the Jewish Museum with the purpose of financing a memorial plaque for the house (how it was possible to get it even approved is another very long story!). Finally, explained the author Doron Rabinovici, one of the worst curses of Judaism is to wish upon someone: "Yours shall not be remembered." The plaque will be mounted in September, explains Alix Paulus, in defiance of the curse of having been forgotten.
With the ongoing search for those expelled from their own house, new questions arose as to the disappearance of those in neighboring houses who were forced to leave the Servitengasse. The search took on the objective of finding names, stories, faces and outcomes. In short, it was about human beings.
In the meantime, the community living in house number six is no longer alone, says Alix Paulus. Students from the film academy have expressed interest in contributing to the project. Official and quasi official groups are speaking about support and assistance. Also there are questions coming in daily from schools as to how one might help.
In New York, Marianne Steiner calmly and unnoticeably follows all the efforts being made in the matter. At the beginning of spring she wrote a letter to Der Standard. It sounded like the sighing of a person from whom a heavy burden was being lifted: "Nothing like this has been done in Austria, not like in Germany." But Paul Steiner, she wrote, would be one of the people whose home was once in the Servitengasse and who would be remembered.
Morak Opens New Herzl Museum in Jerusalem
Original Text Service (OTS) (05/20/05)
Ceremonial Act with Israeli President Katzav, Speaker of the Knesset Rivlin and Austrian State Secretary Morak
Jerusalem - "The new Theodor Herzl Museum should serve for all of us as a reminder and a mandate at the same time. It is a reminder not to forget our common historical roots, but above all, never to forget our history’s tragic mistakes. It is a mandate to remain alert to all forms of anti-Semitism, racism and xenophobia, and to keep the vision alive to build together a better future in peace and happiness for all mankind," said State Secretary Franz Morak, at the opening of the new Herzl Museum at Herzlberg in Jerusalem in the presence of the Israeli President, Katzav, and the Speaker of the Knesset, Reuven Rivlin. President Katzav greeted State Secretary Morak in his speech as "friend" and thanked him for Austria’s commitment and support, which he valued highly.
The enlargement and remodelling of the Herzl Museum has come about, among others, due to the support of the Republic of Austria. During the course of the festive opening with President Katzav and the Knesset Speaker Rivlin, State Secretary Morak laid a wreath on the grave of Theodor Herzl as well as on that of former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. The opening of the new museum took place on the birth date of Theodor Herzl. A decision made by the Knesset last year has officially designated May 20 as Herzl Day.
State Secretary Morak spoke about the life and work of Theodor Herzl, "who was a child of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, shaped by the short prime of Jewish life in Austria during the late 19th century." Herzl, however, experienced at the same time how "the fatal seeds of nationalism began to bear fruit and Austria’s multicultural character disappeared more and more into the background as the ugly baggage of anti-Semitism raised its head with evermore clearer contours," continued Morak. "The exhibition reveals in a comprehensive and impressive way to what extent the young Theodor Herzl, a journalist for the Monarchy’s most renowned daily newspaper, Neue Freie Presse, was anchored in Viennese society and how much it formed him," said Morak.
In his last will, Theodor Herzl wrote that he would like to be buried next to his father until "the Jewish people can bring my remains to Eretz in Israel," quoted Morak.
Between the two world wars, many Austrians left for Israel in the tracks of Theodor Herzl. There were the enthusiastic Zionists, such as the legendary Jerusalem Mayor and founder of the Jerusalem Foundation, Teddy Kollek. Others went to Israel as refugees and were literally able in the last minute to escape extermination by the National Socialists, among whom were also many Austrians. Theodor Herzl, who like Sigmund Freud lived in the Berggasse, contrasted "the evil dream of the anti-Semites with the good dream of the Jewish nation in many of his books and writings" said Morak.
"Only after the horrific experiences of the Shoa did this pleasant dream become a reality. Both dreams, the good one of a home for all Jews, as well as the bad one of anti-Semitism are vividly depicted in the exhibition which was exceedingly well conceived by the younger generation of the 21st century," concluded the State Secretary. He thanked those responsible for the initiative taken in creating the new museum, particularly the Jerusalem Foundation. Morak closed his speech with a quotation by Stefan Zweig, who at the death of Theodor Herzl in 1904 wrote: "Vienna was suddenly made aware of the fact that this was not a mere author or mediocre poet who had died but one of those creators of ideas such as emerge only at the rarest moments in the history of countries and peoples."
Living for Tolerance
Salzburger Nachrichten (04/23/2005)
In Search of the Jewish Philosopher David Oppenheim
For anyone who enjoys reading personal memoirs, this book is invaluable. That is, if one has patience because one needs it when reading the meticulously-researched book by Peter Singer, Pushing Time Away: My Grandfather and the Tragedy of Jewish Vienna. Just short of three hundred pages, Singer, one of the great American philosophers of bioethics in our time, describes the life of his grandfather, David Oppenheim, and his wife, Amalie.
Based upon a great number of letters to his wife, Amalie, as well as upon philosophical papers, Singer explores his family’s past with the thoroughness of an investigator, taking us back to Vienna before World War I.
For Peter Singer, David Oppenheim was a man he never knew. The classical scholar perished in a Nazi concentration camp in Theresienstadt. At the time, David Oppenheim was already an old man and suffered from diabetes. His wife, Amalie, survived and later wrote that her husband’s greatest comfort was knowing before his death that his two daughters, Kora and Doris, had escaped and started a new family in a new country, Australia.
Singer wrote: "Perhaps he was also able to find comfort in the stoic philosophy of Seneca and other philosophers of antiquity, which he loved..." This remark describes the real motivation of the modern-day philosopher, Peter Singer; namely, discovering something about the life of his grandfather.
David Oppenheim was a scholar of the classics from a distinguished, liberal Jewish family, who loved the philosophers of antiquity and admired Goethe and Schiller. He spoke fluent Latin and Ancient Greek and was a member of Sigmund Freud’s circle, "Mittwoch-Gesellschaft." Singer attempts to discover the precursors of his own thoughts in his grandfather’s works. He notices that both he and his grandfather want to understand the inner essence of man, "the secret of the human soul."
This journey of philosophical discovery lays bare interesting details of the rise of Psychoanalysis while depicting the life of Jewish Vienna between the Fin de Siècle and Nazi occupation.
The book about the extraordinary life of a liberal Jew married to a religious Jewess, has, apart from the tragic, also something comforting: Tolerance, then as today, is one of the noblest feelings of which humans are capable..
"What binds us pushes time away," he wrote to his beloved wife, Amalie.
MORAWEC, BARBARA Peter Singer: Mein Großvater, 296 pages, Europa Verlag, 2005.