Andreas Mayer – Guest Blogger & Gedenkdiener with Austrian Service Abroad
The Neuberger welcomes Andreas Mayer who will be completing Holocaust Memorial Service from September 2017 through to June 2018
While most of my friends will be starting their next semester of university soon, I will take a break from my studies and start my Austrian Holocaust Memorial Service at the Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre this September. It will surely be a change from my routine to give tours and educate young people about the Holocaust as opposed to attending engineering classes.
The reasons I came to Toronto are similar to those my predecessor Lorenz stated in his blog post. While I don’t think any person can be held accountable for events that happened before they were born, I do believe that especially the descendants of perpetrator countries have the responsibility to not only say “Never again” but to engage themselves and see that those words actually become true.
As an Austrian saying that I come from a perpetrator country today is much more normal than it was just 30 years ago. It took the state of Austria until 1991, forty-six years after the end of the Second World War, to admit that besides being a victim of National-Socialist crimes it was a perpetrator of those same crimes as well. When learning about this, I was upset at first as thanks to my history teachers, to me it was always clear that Austria, also before it was annexed in 1938, was the home of many sympathizers of Nazi ideology. However, with time I realized that for many people it was just easier to forget than to remember, especially when the official narrative in the country does the same.
It is therefore with great pleasure that as a symbol of continued remembrance I present a signed copy of 104 year old Holocaust survivor and president of the Jewish community Salzburg, Marko Feingold’s book “Wer einmal gestorben ist, dem tut nichts mehr weh” (translation: If you are already dead it can no longer hurt) to the Sarah and Chaim Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Austrian Holocaust Memorial Service. Founded by Andreas Maislinger in 1992 we continue our work, abroad and at home, which includes the concept to establish a House of Responsibility in Adolf Hitler’s birth house in Braunau am Inn, an idea which many supporters see as a more fitting alternative to just tearing it down.
I’m looking forward to many new experiences, friendships and memories here in Canada which I’m sure will last much longer than my service will!