Source: Wiener Zeitung, March 12, 2012.
Vienna. “The victims are the only ones who have the right to forget”. With these words Federal Chancellor Werner Faymann began his speech on the occasion of the general assembly of the Austrian Friends of Yad Vashem. Barbara Prammer, President of the National Council, and Honorary President of the Austrian Friends of Yad Vashem since 2010, had invited them to the Austrian Parliament. Keynote speakers besides Mr. Faymann included Foreign Minister and Vice Chancellor Michael Spindelegger, as well as Avner Shalef, who travelled from Jerusalem to Vienna and has served as the chairman of Yad Vashem in Israel for 19 years.
Monday was March 12 – the day on whoch 74 years ago German troops marched into Austria. As soon as April 1, 2038, the first Jews were brought to Dachau Concentration Camp. The Friends of Yad Vashem, about 500 strong, have been fighting oblivion for nine years. The Holocaust Memorial site Yad Vashem is “probably the most important memorial against oblivion for all mankind”, Mr. Faymann said. Specifically, the youth has to be included in the process of anti-fascist sensitization. The Chancellor agreed to financially secure the Austrian memorial servants at Yad Vashem and Auschwitz also in times of austerity measures, a cutback is out of question, he said. Instead of 750 Euros, the memorial servants were scheduled to receive only 560 Euros in compensation from the Ministry of the Interior, however, Mr. Faymann will now see to it that these funds are not cut back. A working solution will be found.
Meanwhile, Vice Chancellor Spindelegger called for support of the Austrian Friends of Yad Vashem. National Socialism is ”part of Austrian history and identity”, and a constant effort is necessary to prohibit it from happening again.
“We have to bundle our resources in order to enjoy the future”, Mr. Shalev said. The Holocaust could not be regarded as a long-gone event. He served as a reminder that democracy, freedom and humanity have to be defended over and over again.