Office of the Federal President (

Office of the Federal President (
Austrian Press Agency

Heinz Fischer emphasizes joint responsibility of Austria with regard to NS-crimes
Federal President also commemorates resistance fighters during speech at the University of Tel Aviv – receives honorary doctorate

Tel Aviv – Federal President Heinz Fischer emphasized Austria’s joint responsibility with regard to NS-crimes during a speech at the University of Tel Aviv entitled “90 Years of the Republic of Austria” while commemorating the resistance movement. The president also received an honorary doctorate from the University of Tel Aviv. President Fischer talked about important Jewish citizens and the Austrian Israeli relations. Regarding National Socialism, he said: “Altogether, too many Austrians played an important and unforgiveable role. There were, however, also those who risked their lives in the resistance movement and were persecuted by the Nazis with brutality and ruthlesness. (...) More than 90.000 Austrians were arrested for political reasons during the NS-regime and roughly 5.000 were executed as fighters in the resistance or for political reasons, in addition to the 65.000 Jewish victims.

Fischer commented on the time after World War II and the reconstruction of Austria as follows: “An intelligent human being couldn’t regret the time before 1945. Yet many were tempted to downplay their entanglement in the structures of the NS-regime and to depict National Socialism as force majeure that came about the country similar to a natural disaster.

Concerning the relations between Austria and Israel, he reminded the audience that Austria recognized Israel in 1949 and that the remains of Theodor Herzl were transported from Vienna to Jerusalem. Full diplomatic relations were established in 1956.

“Bruno Kreisky’s Middle East policy, in particular his advocacy for the recognition of the PLO and for the rights of the Palestinians as well as the issues revolving around Kurt Waldheim were reasons for significant debates and cast a dark shadow on the bilateral relations,” Fischer stated. “Nevertheless, the increasing coming to terms with the past, the rising awareness of guilt and responsibility and possibly also the fact that between 1968 and 1986 more than 270.000 Jews from the former Soviet Republic emigrated to Israel via Austria were connecting elements and helped overcome some of the difficulties.

Today, we can speak of “very good relations and a position of trust” President Fischer stressed “and we will do everything to keep it that way in the future. “The current government” he added, “has a clear position regarding the NS-crimes” and “will fight every form of anti-Semitism.” It is now possible to “deal with delicate matters from the past in an appropriate way”. The knowledge about the Holocaust results in the responsibility for the “Never Again.”