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Austria Commemorates 5 May


Austria’s national Memorial Day Against Violence and Racism in Memory of the Victims of National Socialism was commemorated on 5 May. 

Austria has commemorated this date, the anniversary of the liberation of Mauthausen, as a national memorial day since 1998.  A list of remembrance initiatives that took place across the country on 5 May can be found on the website of _erinnern.at_.

5 May also marked the opening of two new exhibitions and a visitor’s center at Mauthausen, in the district of Perg, Upper Austria.  The exhibitions are the first results of the redesign of the memorial site, which will continue through 2018.

The commemoration event and opening ceremony on 5 May, organized by the Austrian government, was attended by many international dignataries, including several Austrian Cabinet members, the Speaker of the Austrian Parliament, the Serbian Prime Minister, the Czech Minister of the Interior, the U.S. Ambassador to Austria, and officials representing several other countries.    

The keynote speakers included Austrian President Heinz Fischer, Hungarian President Janos Ader, Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski, Chairman of the Russian Duma Sergei Naryshkin, Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, and AJC Executive Director David Harris.  

The program was opened by Austrian Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner, whose ministry maintains the Mauthausen Memorial.  Mikl-Leitner emphasised that this generation has a "huge responsibility and the duty" to take over from the survivors and remember the atrocities.

The redesign of the Mauthausen site began in 2008.  The former hospital, which was turned into a museum, has been renovated completely so that the original structure can be seen, Barbara Glück, head of the redesign explained.  More than 100 original objects will illustrate the history of Mauthausen, and contemporary witnesses will speak in around 30 video and audio interviews.