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28 March 2017

Austrian Service Abroad at the Neuberger

Gedenkdienst -Holocaust Memorial Service at the Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre

As the school year in Canada draws to a close, so too does my 10-month placement at the Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre. During this time I have embarked upon many new and rewarding experiences, fulfilling my responsibilities completing my civil service with Austrian Service Abroad. Although most young men complete the mandatory military service, many choose civil service, and about 25 have the opportunity to work in Holocaust education centres around the world, due to Austrian Service Abroad and the tireless commitment of its founder Dr. Andreas Maislinger.

Reflecting back, I chose Holocaust Memorial Service because I wanted to demonstrate that acknowledging Austria’s past and shared responsibility in the events of the Holocaust, continue to be important to my generation. Not surprisingly, I had to come to Toronto in order to learn about the experiences of Holocaust survivors who fled Austria after the Anschluss, to meet descendants of survivors who were interned in the Mauthausen concentration camp, and to work on the Canadian Collection of survivor testimonies where I discovered testimonies from survivors from my home region of Graz. These were all experiences that I likely would not have experienced if I remained in Austria.

In May, I will take part in an Experience Jewish Vienna program that the Neuberger offers in partnership with the Jewish Welcome Service Vienna. I am glad that some of the Neuberger’s volunteers and lay leaders will have the opportunity to see how Austria continues to deal with its past, and the important role that Holocaust remembrance continues to have in my home country. For several years now, Austrian Service Abroad has worked to promote the establishment of the House of Responsibility in Austria to continue to educate about our past.

Leaving the Neuberger will be bittersweet. I am looking forward to sharing what I have learnt and my experiences in Canada with family and friends, as well as starting university in Graz. However, I will miss the friendships I have made, and the warmth of UJA and the Neuberger team. The memories and friendships I have made will last a lifetime. I will continue to do my part in educating about the Holocaust.

Austrian Service Abroad at the Neuberger

Although I don’t feel responsible for what happened during the Holocaust I believe that as an Austrian, I  have the responsibility to remember and ensure that it never happens again.


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Lorenz Glettler

Written byLorenz Glettler

Lorenz Gletter serves as the Gedenkdiener at the Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre in Toronto, Canada.  Born in Graz, Austria, Lorenz graduated from Handelsakademie in Voitsberg, Austria where he studied business economics. Lorenz began his service in Toronto in August 2016 and will complete his term in May 2017. When not working at the Neuberger, Lorenz – a cinemaphile – enjoys taking in Toronto’s rich film and cinema culture.