Commemorating NS Victims and the Liberation of Mauthausen Sixty-Five Years Ago

Austrian Federal Chancellery (05/10/2010)

Sixty-five years ago on May 5, 1945, the National Socialist concentration camp of Mauthausen, was liberated by U.S. troops. Since 1989, May 5 has been observed as Remembrance Day Against Violence and Racisim.

To mark the occasion, Austria’s official representatives held a commemorative ceremony in the historic meeting hall of the Austrian Parliament. In addition to President Heinz Fischer and Speaker of the Parliament Barbara Prammer, the Federal government and numerous members of Parliament attended the event. Former Polish Foreign Minister Wladyslaw Bartoszwewski (88), a resistance fighter and Auschwitz survivor himself, urged in his commemorative speech, “dealing with the past in a responsible manner.”

This year’s commemorative ceremony focused on a group of pupils who had traced an incident referred to as the “Hare Hunting of Mühlviertel.” In February 1945 some 500 Soviet inmates tried to escape from Mauthausen and were killed in an unparalleled manhunt, in which the local population joined in.

Following the commemorative ceremony in Parliament, Chancellor Faymann and Bartoszwewski held face-to-face talks. Faymann praised Bartoszwewski’s commitment to dialogue and public education efforts towards reconciliation with the past.

The centerpiece of this year’s liberation ceremony was the memorial held at Mauthausen on May 9, 2010, attended by delegations from throughout the world. Highlighted this year were the children and young people detained in the concentration camp. In March 1945, some 15,000 children between the ages of four and twenty were registered by name in Mauthausen. Some 200,000 people were detained under inhumane conditions at Mauthausen and its forty-nine subcamps. About half of them did not survive annihilation.