Winkler: "Current forms of anti-Semitism should be increasingly addressed"

Austrian Ministry of European and International Affairs

Winkler: "Current forms of anti-Semitism should be increasingly addressed"
State Secretary Hans Winkler at an international round table on

Vienna, 10 November 2008 – "Anti-Semitism is still a social problem that needs to be taken seriously. It has not remained a historical phenomenon, but can, unfortunately, still be repeatedly observed today. No country is immune to revisionism, anti-Semitism and extremism," said State Secretary Hans Winkler at a high-calibre round table discussion at the Hofburg Palace on "Lessons learnt? Holocaust remembrance and combating anti-Semitism in 2008". The meeting was organised by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and the International Holocaust Task Force (ITF) to mark the 70th anniversary of the anti-Semitic November pogroms.

"Due to its unprecedented nature the holocaust will be of universal significance for all time. However, we must not restrict ourselves to the discussion of historical forms of anti-Semitism, but must critically address current forms of anti-Semitism in academic and social terms as well. We all have the moral obligation to see to it that future generations also understand the causes of the holocaust and think about its consequences. This requires endeavours at all levels and in all areas, ranging from politics to civil society. Without any doubt, an indispensable prerequisite for this is easier access to information, studies and findings; information that has to be made available to an interested audience through the different media. In this context the work with contemporary eyewitnesses is of immeasurable value," stated Winkler, highlighting the work of the International Holocaust Task Force and the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights. Austria currently chairs the ITF.

Winkler reminded his audience that when joining the ITF, the members declared their commitment to the "Stockholm Declaration", which, among other things, provides for the implementation and increased promotion of national policies and programmes in support of education and research in the field of the holocaust and its commemoration. "Prospects are good that things can be changed. But we have to act in concert and acknowledge the appalling truth of the holocaust vis-à-vis all those who deny it," stated Winkler. As the State Secretary explicitly emphasised: "The Austrian law banning Nazi activities is and remains an indispensable part of our legal system. It does not serve to restrict freedom of opinion but must be understood in the light of our own historical experience. Never again must we allow an ideology to circulate that aims at the humiliation, dehumanisation and, ultimately, the extinction of a population group."

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

International Holocaust Task Force (
Austrian Chairmanship

Combating anti-Semitism

High-level round table on 10 November 2008 in Vienna
VIENNA, 10 November 2008
In the night of 9th to 10th November 1938 pogroms were carried out by the Nazi regime with popular support all over the territories of then Nazi Germany. Almost a hundred Jews were killed, roughly 30.000 Jews were deported to concentration camps and countless synagogues were burnt or destroyed all over todays Germany and Austria.
In order to commemorate these events, a high-level round table entitled “Lessons learned?
Holocaust remembrance and combating anti-Semitism in 2008”was held in the Vienna
Hofburg on 10 November 2008. Upon invitation of the Austrian Chairmanship of the
International Holocaust Task Force (ITF) and the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights representatives of various International Organisations introduced their activities in the field of Holocaust Remembrance and the fight against Antisemitism.
Professor Yehuda Bauer, Honorary Chairman of the ITF, opened the event with an
impressive keynote speech on the historical background of the November progroms. He
concluded:” There are repetitions that hark back to the genocide of the Jews. The Shoah was unprecedented. But it was a precedent, and that precedent is being followed. We should do everything we can to stop that”
Further statements were given by:
• Ambassador Ferdinand Trauttmansdorff, Austrian Chair of the Holocaust Task Force
• Ambassador Janez Lenarčič, Director of the OSCE/ODIHR
• The Right Hon Terry Davis, Secretary General of the Council of Europe
• Morten Kjærum, Director of the EU Fundamental Rights Agency
• Maher Nasser on behalf of Prof. Francis Deng, UN Special Adviser for the Prevention of Genocide
• Marcello Scarone Azzi, Programme Specialist, Division of Human Rights, Human
Security and Philosophy, UNESCO.
This round table was regarded as very helpful, as it brought together, for the first time, high level representatives of these organizations to exchange information but also to express their commitment to enter into closer cooperation in this field.
As a first step a letter of intent was signed by the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, the Right Hon. Terry Davies and the Chair of ITF. The letter and the following Memorandum of Understanding shall ensure close co-operation between the two international institutions on the issues of Holocaust remembrance and fighting Anti-Semitism, xenophobia and extremism and on ensuring human rights.