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Commemoration Ceremony at the Mauthausen Concentration Camp

Published: May 6, 2019; 17:29 · (Vindobona)

Memorial Day against Violence and Racism for the Victims of National Socialism and Liberation of the Mauthausen Concentration Camp on 5 May 1945, where 100,000 people were murdered.

Heinrich Himmler, main architect of the Holocaust, visiting Mauthausen in June 1941. Himmler is talking to Franz Ziereis, camp commandant. / Picture: © Wikimedia Commons / Bundesarchiv, Bild 192-308 / CC-BY-SA 3.0 [CC BY-SA 3.0 de (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/de/deed.en)]

More than 9000 guests commemorated the liberation of the concentration camp by US troops at the beginning of May 1945 in the Mauthausen Memorial.

Austria was represented by Federal Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, President of the National Council Wolfgang Sobotka, Minister of Education Heinz Faßmann, State Secretary Karoline Edtstadler and Upper Austrian Governor Thomas Stelzer.

Also present were former Federal President Heinz Fischer and representatives of several religious communities, the President of the Jewish Community Vienna Oskar Deutsch, the Linz Diocesan Bishop Manfred Scheuer, former Bishop Maximilian Aichern, the Protestant Bishop Michael Bünker and the Orthodox Archpriest Ioannis Nikolitsis.

"For far too long Austria has seen itself exclusively as a victim of National Socialism and not also as a perpetrator. It is therefore up to us to learn from history and to assume our responsibility in the present and in the future," said Federal Chancellor Sebastian Kurz.

In conversation with contemporary witnesses and victims of the Shoah, it would become clear from the memories what atrocities people in Austria were capable of and how much suffering they had caused. All the more remarkable were the survivors' joie de vivre and the positive memories which, despite everything, connected them to Austria, the Chancellor said.

"Anti-Semitism and racism are inhuman. They have no place in our country. We are committed and determined to lead the fight against anti-Semitism in Austria and Europe", the Federal Chancellor noted.

"Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it," Karoline Edtstadler, the State Secretary responsible for memorials in the Ministry of the Interior, recalled a statement by George Santayana. Therefore the visit of the Mauthausen memorial is to be made possible for all pupils.

FPÖ not desired and not present

Also representatives of all other parties were present - with the exception of the FPÖ, because its officials are expressly not desired on the part of the organizers. A resolution to this effect dates back to the 1960s and was only reaffirmed last year by the survivors' organisations bundled in the International Mauthausen Committee.

At the end of the official ceremony, witnesses and survivors left the camp together with US soldiers to commemorate the events.

The event in Mauthausen, moderated by Mercedes Echerer and Konstanze Breitebner, is the world's largest concentration camp memorial and liberation ceremony. This year, it was entitled "Niemals Nummer. Immer Mensch.".

In the run-up to the event, several celebrations of various international survivors' associations took place at the various monuments in the memorial.

The Mauthausen concentration camp was the largest German Nazi concentration camp in Austria, the Ostmark, from 1942 Alpen- und Donau-Reichsgaue.

It was located 20 kilometres east of Linz in Mauthausen and existed from 8 August 1938 until its dissolution after the liberation of its inmates by US troops on 5 May 1945.

Around 200,000 people were imprisoned in the Mauthausen concentration camp and its subcamps, more than 100,000 of whom lost their lives.

Since 1947, a memorial of the Republic of Austria has been located on the site of the former concentration camp.

The celebration of the 75th anniversary of liberation will take place on 10 May 2020. It has the working title "Grenzen überwinden. Gemeinsam für mehr Menschlichkeit." (Overcoming borders. Together for more humanity).