Austria Memorializes Jewish Lives Lost in the Holocaust
Austria is making good on its desire to learn from the past. November 9, 1938 is known as Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass, a pogrom that targeted and terrorized Jewish people in Germany and Austria through violent attacks. Yesterday, on the 83rd anniversary of that horrific night, the Austrian government unveiled the Shoah Wall of Names Memorial, the country’s first public Holocaust memorial. Located in Ostarrichi Park in the center of Vienna, the memorial pays tribute to the 64,440 Austrian Jewish men, women, and children who lost their lives during the Holocaust, according to jns.org.
Among the ceremony’s attendees was Austria’s new Chancellor, Alexander Schallenberg. During his speech, he said, “It is all the more our task [of the Austrian government] to actively protect Jewish life in Austria and Europe and to speak out against any form of anti-Semitism without any ifs or buts. With this wall, we pull their names and their history out of oblivion. We give them back their identity, their individuality and that part of their humanity. And they once again have a place in their homeland.”
If actions speak louder than words, this new memorial shouts to the world that Austria is learning and improving upon a dark part of its history. It is not enough to merely remember the past; we must learn from our mistakes and fix them going forward. Or, as George Santayana famously said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” It’s great to see Austria learn this lesson from its past and become a friend of Israel and the Jewish people in the present.