Austrian chancellor visits Israel, signs agreement with Yad Vashem


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz began a state visit to Israel.

Kurz on Sunday visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, where he laid a wreath in the Hall of Remembrance.

Kurz and Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev signed an Agreement of Principle in, ensuring document exchange and access between Yad Vashem and the Austrian State Archives and Mauthausen Memorial.

“As Chancellor of Austria, I have to state that Austria and Austrians carry a heavy burden for the shameful crimes committed during the Shoah. But let me assure you that we Austrians know that we are responsible for our own history. It is our duty and obligation to ensure that the Shoah will never happen again and that my generation and succeeding generations will never forget these horrific crimes,” Kurz said following the signing, according to Yad Vashem.

Kurz also announced that the Republic of Austria will contribute to the establishment of the new Shoah Heritage Collections Center at Yad Vashem, providing additional storage and preservation labs for Holocaust-era artifacts, artwork and documentation in the Yad Vashem Collections.

Kurz had been scheduled to make a private visit to the Western Wall on Sunday.

This is Kurz first visit to Israel as chancellor. He previously visited Israel twice as foreign minister.

Kurz will address the American Jewish Committee’s Global Forum on Monday.

The far-right Freedom Party, which was established by former Nazis in the 1940s and has anti-Semitic roots, is the junior partner in Kurz’s governing coalition.  Israel officially boycotts the Freedom Party.

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