Austria, Too, Remembers Kristallnacht Anniversary

In symposia, documentary films, newspaper stories and exhibition, Austrians remembered Kristallnacht.

The Austrians, who have themselves claimed to have been victims of the Nazis and not persecutors, could hardly avoid facing the memory of the night of Nov. 9-10, 1938, when anti-Jewish pogroms broke out throughout the Third Reich.

Austrians, however, were calling the night the “November Pogrom,” following Austrian historians” recommendations.

The sheer volume of programs and commemorative ceremonies did not allow the often evasive Austrians to circumvent the subject.

Vienna did not escape protests, however. Rabbi Avi Weiss and Glenn Richter of New York, joined by others in the “Coalition of Concern,” demonstrated against Austrian President Kurt Waldheim in front of St. Stephen’s Cathedral, writing his name on the sidewalk and then erasing it with a giant toothbrush.

Waldheim issued a short statement Tuesday, saying “no cover of silence” should be drawn over Austrian involvement in Nazi atrocities. He made no mention of his own wartime activities.

At the airport here, a group calling itself the New Austria Republican Club handed out leaflets saying “Vienna is Really Different . . . In Vienna, Anti-Semitism is a Tradition.”

Local television aired several documentaries, one in particular devoted totally to the “night of broken glass” that is considered the precursor to the Nazi Holocaust.

A four-part series being shown this week depicts the history of the Jews of Austria, which gave so many famed scientists, doctors and musicians to world culture. The series traces the history to the first mention of Jews about 900 years ago until the destruction of the flourishing Jewish community.

In Graz, the “Styrian Autumn” cultural festival also centered on Kristallnacht. Artists from Austria and several Western countries showed avant-garde works depicting Nazi ideology.

It was in this city that the only negative incident took place. Last week, a monument was damaged by a firebomb.

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