On the evening of November 8, a service of remembrance of the November Pogrom was held on Vienna’s Tempelgasse, where Austria’s largest synagogue was destroyed by the Nazis in 1938. In front of 600 guests, Federal President Alexander Van der Bellen recalled the events in a powerful speech.
The memorial event was organized by ESRA Vienna – Psychosocial Center; attendees included Israel’s ambassador Talya Lado-Fresher and the Vice President of the Jewish Community, Claudia Prutscher. Further guests of honor included Holocaust survivors and their descendants from Israel, the US and Australia, who were invited to the event in Vienna and assisted in cooperation with the Jewish Welcome Service.
In his very powerful speech, Federal President Alexander Van der Bellen recalled how quickly morals and human dignity were pushed into the background in those times and how neighbors were turned into enemies.
Only by looking at individual fates can we realize what happened back then. Contemporary witnesses and family members of the victims of NS persecution recounted how many people in Vienna committed suicide out of despair, how sadistically the prisoners were tortured, and how hopeless their chances of escaping were.
According to ESRA Managing Director Peter Schwarz, this shows what happens when certain groups in society are held responsible for actual or alleged problems. Remembrance therefore also obliges us to observe, judge and act critically in the present and future. (Source: ESRA)
On the right: reception hosted by the Federal President, photos: Peter Lechner/HBF