Mauthausen (APA) – Austrian President Heinz Fischer inaugurated two new exhibitions at the memorial of the former concentration camp Mauthausen, as well as a „Room of Names“ of 81,000 people who fell victim to the cruel extermination undertaken by the Nazi regime, on Sunday, the anniversary of the liberation of May 5, 1945. They have become places of great dignity with the clear message “never again”, the head of state pointed out. The opening ceremony was marked by major international participation and observation by the media. Among those who attended the inauguration were the heads of state of Poland and Hungary, Bronislaw Komorowski and Janos Ader, head of the Russian State Duma Sergey Naryshkin, Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dadic, Israel’s Minister of Justice Tsipi Livni as well as 30 survivors of the concentration camp.
From Austria came speaker of parliament Barbara Prammer (Social Democrats), Vice-Chancellor of the federal government Michael Spindelegger, Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner, who is in charge of the Memorial, and governor Josef Pühringer (all from the Austrian People’s Party).
President Heinz Fischer remarked that this day, as well as the presence of high-ranking guests from many different countries, was a day of recognition, a day of solidarity towards the victims and a day of commitment to human dignity, for both the Mauthausen Memorial and all those who realized its importance. He further addressed the survivors of the former concentration camp who had come to Mauthausen that day. Through their presence, they showed that their history would not be forgotten and that their words would stay alive and serve as a warning in the future. “Thus, this is the right occasion and the right place to call on ourselves and further on all those who have responsibility in Europe today, to learn from a tragic past and to fight any form of racism or anti-Semitism with great determination and firmness and clarity,” he added.
He criticized that the effort towards complete solving of all Nazi crimes, an appropriate compensation or the retrieval of Austrians who were forced to emigrate at the beginning of the Nazi-era, had taken a long time. Late, but not too late, Austria has been dealing more intensively with its past in the last 25 years and has also intensified its scientific research. Apart from the great cooperation with institutions and organizations which are often located thousands of kilometers away, local citizens of the region have also supported the project. It certainly wasn’t easy to find access to the history of the concentration camp in the neighborhood, Fischer emphasized.
Livni ascertained that “never again” not only applied to Israel but to the whole world. However, the word “never” needed to be given some sort of practical content, he stated. Naryshkin pointed out that once again there were movements and marches under Nazi flags in Europe and called for not allowing a rebirth of this criminal and inhumane ideology to happen. Adar also demanded that these infamous forces, which lead Europe on the wrong track, not be given any room. Komorowski expressed his thanks concerning the new exhibition in Mauthausen, which enabled to carry on the collective responsibility for the painful experience in Europe.
A new exhibition in the former concentration camp clinic was opened. It provides data and facts about the concentration camp Mauthausen but also depicts the inmates’ personal stories – all scientifically sound and using the latest pedagogic methods. The exhibition titled “Crime scene Mauthausen - a search for traces” depicts the killing methods used by the Nazis, even though they had tried to destroy as much evidence as possible prior to the liberation of the concentration camp. In the former basement where corpses used to be stored, a “Room of Names” has been set up.
On glass plates, as well as in a 25-centimeter-thick book, the names of 81,000 victims are listed in the language and script of their country of origin. The data has been collected from archives around the world but not all victims could be identified. It is estimated that in total approximately 90,000 of the 200,000 inmates captured in Mauthausen lost their lives. The guests present at the inauguration, especially the survivors, had brought personal objects of memory with them, among them photographs, copies of documents and texts. These were put into a “time capsule”, which will be placed at the entrance of the exhibition.