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Austria's Youth Serving Holocaust Remembrance as an Alternative to Military Service


Since 1992 the Republic of Austria has been providing a unique programme of international dialogue called „Gedenkdienst". In this programme young Austrians may serve - as an alternative to military service - in organisations focused on Holocaust remembrance, education, research and awareness.

Since its inception „Gedenkdienst" has become a unique international network providing assistance in Holocaust-related archives, pedagogical institutions, museums, research institutions, memorial sites, and institutions caring for Holocaust survivors throughout the world. It offers some 50-60 young people mainly in their twenties an invaluable opportunity to take part in an international dialogue and to make a contribution in the discourse in current Austrian society.

Largely funded by the Austrian Federal Government, the programme serves as an alternative to Austria's compulsory military service. It assigns young Austrians to conduct research for continuing documentation of the Holocaust compiled in the archives, museums and libraries at various sites abroad as well as to initiate contact with former Holocaust survivors now living in those countries.

Besides financial support and accreditation, the Republic of Austria is not further involved in administrative agendas. Therefore Gedenkdienst volunteers serving abroad are trained and deployed by three accredited NGOs with different focuses, approaches and projects other than the sending activity.

As, for constitutional reasons, there is no governmental support for women's „Gedenkdienst", individual strategies for enabling women to participate in this programme have been individually implemented by the accredited NGOs.

The three accredited NGOs are (in alphabetical order):