BERLIN (AP) – Austria broke ground Monday on a new memorial to the 65,000 Jews killed during the Nazi era.
“The memorial to the Jewish children, women and men of Austria who were murdered in the Shoah”, erected in the central Ostarrichi Park in Vienna, will consist of large plates engraved in a circle in the ground with the names of the 64,000 victims identified. Another 1,000 are known to have been killed by the Nazis, but their names have been lost.
Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler was born in Austria, and many in the country were enthusiastic about Germany’s annexation in 1938, the year before World War II.
At the time, about 210,000 Jews lived in the country. Many fled, but later returned to the Nazis when the German armies marched west to the English Channel and deep into the Soviet Union to the east.
The monument, due to be completed next spring, is considered a place of contemplation, both a tribute to those who died and a reminder of the dangers of anti-Semitism.
There is only one entrance to the center of the circle formed by the plates, which is planned to create a ‘place of reverence’ for visitors.
“Descendants of the murdered persons should be able to search the names of their relatives, to touch the letters with their hands, to pray, to light a memorial candle without being disturbed,” said the organizers on their website.
“For all Austrians, the monument should provide a peaceful place where they can remember the plight of their Jewish fellow citizens and honor their lives today and in future generations.”
Austrian parliamentary speaker, Wolfgang Sobotka, said at the ceremony that nothing could remedy the crimes of the Holocaust, but that the monument could be a warning for the future.
“There is no remedy here, but there is a reminder to remember,” he said, the Austrian news agency APA reported.
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