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Austrian Discusses Suffering at Mauthausen Memorial Ceremony

May 18, 1988
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Chancellor Franz Vranitzky of Austria rejected the idea that Austrians must bear the burden of collective guilt for the crimes of the Nazi era.

Addressing more than 15,000 persons attending a memorial gathering at Mauthausen on Sunday, the 43rd anniversary of the liberation of the concentration camp by American troops, Vranitzky said more Austrians suffered Nazi persecution than is generally known abroad.

Austria, therefore, ought not accept the thesis of collective guilt, even though Austria was hardly unfriendly to the Nazi regime, said Vranitzky, the leader of the Socialist Party.

He stressed that the suffering of Hitler’s victims can be traced back to the guilt of individuals. More than 120,000 inmates died at Mauthausen.

“One can never deal enough with the past,” the chancellor said. “We received our identity today through the resistance against the Nazis. The Austrian state is the antithesis of the National Socialist regime of injustice,” the chancellor added.

But Vranitzky castigated xenophobic tendencies in Austria today, which he called new forms of anti-Semitism.

The memorial gathering was attended by the U.S. ambassador to Austria, Henry Grunwald, and the Israeli charge d’affaires, Gideon Yarden.

Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis presented his cantata, “A Mass for Freedom and Brotherhood, A Cry Against Force and War” which he composed specially for the occasion.

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