Austria

1 Recognition of the Genocide

1.1 Recognition, official texts

The Austrian legal system does not provide legal recognition of historical facts, although the denial of the Holocaust is a criminal offence under the “Law prohibiting the Reactivation of National Socialism”. Although Austria has not officially recognised the Holocaust or the Samudaripen – in Austria referred to as the Holocaust of the Roma – through any legislative act, the Samudaripen or the Holocaust of the Roma is recognised as an integral part of the Holocaust as such. In 2004, the official commemoration organised by the Austrian Parliament on the occasion of the Holocaust, on the 5th of May – the Austrian Holocaust Day – , was dedicated exclusively to the Genocide of the Roma.

1.2 Data (camps locations, Remembrance places, measures etc.)

The Camp Lackenbach in Austria (1941-1945) was the largest “Zigeunerlager” (concentration camp for Roma) within the borders of the Third Reich. About 2 000 out of its 4 000 inmates were murdered in Łódź (in German, Litzmannstadt) and Chełmno (in German, Kulmhof) in Poland; another 1,000 in Auschwitz-Birkenau. Smaller “Zigeunerlager” (“Gypsy Camps”) were located in Weyer, Salzburg and Vienna. Out of 12 000 Austrian Roma, roughly 1 000 perished during the Holocaust.

According to Dokumentationsarchiv des Österreichischen Widerstandes (DÖW, Documentation centre of the Austrian Resistance), approximately 9500 Austrian “Gypsies” fell victim to National Socialism. The official data collected on the number of the surviving Gypsies after 1945 are similarly problematic as those of the interwar period because of the arbitrariness of the stigmatisation. In a document from Burgenland dated 7 February 1952 there is a reference that in 1948, under the pretext to register all victims of NS-terror, a census of all Gypsies residing in Burgenland had taken place. The police counted 870 Gypsies of whom 636 had survived various concentration camps. Liberation, however, did not put an end to discrimination and harassment by the authorities for Roma and Sinti. The regional government of Lower Austria, for instance, informed warningly about an imminent new “Gypsy scourge” on 28 June 1945. Also the “Gypsy registration” required since 1888 was continued until the late 1950s. The remark by the Department for Public Security of September 1948 that Gypsies would frequently pretend to have been former concentration camp inmates, denied the survivors the status of victim of National Socialism.

A memorial was inaugurated in Salzburg in 1995 (Ignaz-Rieder-Kai), with the inscription: "In Salzburg fell more than 300 Gypsies, victims of the Nazi racial policies. Imprisoned from 1940 to 1943 under inhumane conditions in the Gypsy camp of Salzburg, they were deported in the spring of 1943 to the Auschwitz extermination camp. As a reminder and admonition. The township Salzburg - Zoltan Pap ".

Another memorial was built in 2009 in the "Zigeunerlager Maxglan", on the grounds of the former camp at Salzburg.

1.3 Specialised institution, commission, research centre etc., dealing with this issue

The Documentation Centre of Austrian Resistance (DÖW) was founded in 1963 by former members of the Austrian Resistance, victims of NS-persecution, and committed scholars from the sciences and humanities. It collects and archives relevant source materials on the Nazi era and Nazi crimes, and in particular the Holocaust. It holds a permanent exhibition in the Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall), in Vienna.

1.4 Official initiatives (campaigns, actions, projects, commemoration days, museums)

The Documentation Centre of Austrian Roma has a special exhibition on this topic, as does the permanent exhibition of the DöW (Dokumentationsarchiv des österreichischen Widerstandes - Documentation Centre of the Austrian Resistance) in Vienna. The Mauthausen Memorial has a special monument dedicated to the Roma Victims of the Genocide. There are special monuments in Salzburg, Weyer, and Lackenbach/Burgenland. “The Roma Base Project” at the University of Graz has been a major research centre for Roma history in Austria for many years and was a major contributor to the “Factsheets on Roma History” published by the Council of Europe, which contain a very detailed account of the fate of Europe’s Roma populations between 1938 and 1945. The topic of the Genocide of the Roma is an integral part of Holocaust commemorative activities in Austria – such as “Letter to the Stars” or the teacher training programs on the topic.

The Ministry of Education (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Frauen - BMBF) is in charge of the teaching of the Genocide of the Roma. They have set up a project called "Nationalsozialismus und Holocaust: Gedächtnis und Gegenwart" (National Socialism and Holocaust: Memory and Future) which integrates contemporary witnesses in the classroom. This programme is yet not compulsory but is one of the offerings of the the civil education in Austria. This project is led through the association Erinern.at, which is a network emanating from the BMBF. They have developed a pedagogical website dedicated to the Genocide of the Roma Das Schicksal der europäischen Roma und Sinti während des Holocaust (The fate of European Roma and Sinti), together with Anne Frank House (The Netherlands) and Mémorial de la Shoah (France). It is currently in English, German and French. It brought together professional historians, Roma and Sinti representatives and educators in order to develop a mutually accepted version of instruction and information materials for teachers, students and other interested persons concerning the largely forgotten fate of the European Roma and Sinti during the Holocaust.

In November 2012 and November 2013, Erinnern.at organized, in cooperation with Anne Frank House (The Netherlands) and the Museum of Romani Culture (Czech Republic), the International Conference on teaching material on the Roma Genocide. There were three target groups represented at the meetings: educational experts working at institutes related to the history of the Holocaust and/or the Roma genocide, teacher trainers that are working at universities or teacher training colleges, and educational authorities. The expertise of these different groups of experts contributed significantly to the development of the teaching material and of the implementation process. The project aimed to create a network of educators and policy makers from across Europe to generally support teaching about the genocide of the Roma in the institutions and countries that are part of the project, and in particular to further the implementation of the teaching materials "The Fate of the European Roma and Sinti during the Holocaust".

2 Teaching about the Genocide of the Roma

2.1 Inclusion of the topic in the school curriculum

The topic of the Genocide of the Roma is included in the school curriculum of primary and secondary education. The topic of the Holocaust and the Samudaripen is not only taught as part of the History curriculum but rather as a part of “Politische Bildung” (“Political Education”), which is defined as an educational principle, i.e. as topics which can be addressed and taught by all teachers – which indeed – they are.

2.2 Inclusion of the topic in the school textbooks

All Austrian history textbooks do provide an overview of the Holocaust, but mostly only mention the Roma under “further victims”. Apart from one new textbook published in 2003 for lower secondary education – Roland Böckle, Thomas Hellmuth, Ewald Hiebl, Wolfgang Kuschnigg, Karin Tolar Hellmuth, Manfred Tuschl (eds.), Faszination Geschichte 3, 2003 –, which dedicates a short chapter to the fate of Austrian Roma under the National Socialism, no detailed information is provided in the textbooks for History lessons.

2.3 Training of teachers and education professionals

Teacher training seminars on the topic are organised regularly by the different regional pedagogical high school and universities, as well as by the project “errinern.at” funded by the Ministry of Education.

Erinnern.at is active in the Austria-wide teacher training on the Holocaust and organizes discussions and roundtables on schoolbooks. They have issued guidelines on “Youth and extremism, anti-Semitism and Racism”.

In November 2012 and November 2013, Erinnern.at organised, in cooperation with Anne Frank House (The Netherlands) and the Museum of Romani Culture (Czech Republic), the International Conference on teaching material on the Roma Genocide, to develop and promote teaching materials on the Genocide of the Roma, and in particular to further the implementation of the teaching materials "The Fate of the European Roma and Sinti during the Holocaust". Teaching materials are available on their website.

In 2012 took place the 11th Austrian Central Seminar, entitled “The Genocide of the Roma and the Sinti”, from 8 to 10 November, in Eisenstadt, Burgenland. New teaching materials were presented, together with the booklet for teaching and learning about Anti-Semitism and racism “Ein Mensch ist ein Mensch. Rassismus, Antisemitismus und sonst noch was...” (A Human Being Is a Human Being: Racism, Antisemitism and More…). The introductory panel focused on the similarities and differences concerning the genocides of the Roma and Sinti and the Jews.

The topic has been already evoked in “Lehren und Lernen über den Holocaust” (Teaching and learning about the Holocaust), the booklet issued after the International Conference “Holocaust teaching” that took place on 11-13 December 2008, in Vienna. Gerhard Baumgartner presented the sites of remembrance for the Genocide of the Roma. Together with Fabienne Regard of the Council of Europe, they unveiled “Zeugnisse von Roma-Überlebenden im Unterricht” (The Roma survivor testimony in the classroom), showing extracts from the DVD „Das Vermächtnis“ of Franz Rosenbach and the film „Meine Zigeunermutter“ of Therese L. Rani.

2.4 Particular activities undertaken at the level of education institutions

2.5 Remembrance day

3 Official contacts and resource persons

3.1 Responsible person in the Ministry of Education

Mr. Egon Kordik
CDED Austria
Ministry of Education, Culture and Arts
Rosengasse 2
A – 1010 Wien / Vienna

3.2 Resource persons - list of experts and historians

 

Gerhard Baumgartner
Familienplatz 4/1-3
A – Wien / Vienna

Detailed studies as to the fate of Austrian Roma were carried out by the “*Österreichische Historikerkommission*” (Austrian Historian Commission), i.e. Gerhard Baumgartner, Florian Freund, and Harald Greifeneder.

Ongoing research is carried out by the DöW - (“Dokumentationsarchiv des österreichischen Widerstandes” (Documentation Centre of the Austrian Resistance) and the  “Dokumentationsarchiv Österreichischer Roma” (Documentation Centre of Austrian Roma).

Michaela Bobas-Pupic (Vienna), Lajos Csépai (Vienna), Barbara Tiefenbacher (Graz) are experts for Erinnern.at.

4 Initiatives of the civil society

4.1 Relevant projects having a real impact on the people and/or the wide public

5 Point of view of the Roma community - including survivors' testimonies

Karl and Ceija Stojka are brother and sister who survived the Holocaust and internment at Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen. Their father was sent to the Dachau concentration camp, then to Schloss Hartheim, where he was killed.

After the end of World War II, their family saw the lack of acknowledgement of the Porajmos in Austria, the population’s ignorance concerning this suffering and the continuation of some anti-Romani policies.

They survived the Holocaust, but these never forgettable experiences become a central and eternal theme of their artistic work. Ceija's paintings reflect upon the entrenched sorrow in the bodies and spirit of the victims. There are several books, films and artistic works which are capturing her life. Ceija puclished her first autobiographic book in 1988, "We Live in Seclusion. The Memories of a Romni". Later on in 1992 she published another autobiographical book called: “Reisende auf dieser Welt /"Travellers on This World". Besides painting and writing Ceija also sang in Romanes. In 1989, at the age of 56, Ceija Stojka began to paint. Her work has been exhibited in western and eastern Europe and in Japan. In 2005 the Jewish Museum of Vienna organized an exhibition with the title of „ Ceija Stojka, Leben!”. In 2010 for the first time her artworks have been exhibited in the U.S. Her ars poetica declared: „I always try to portray my feelings and memories. I want to show my own world to the people. It is important to understand that, we are all human beings and art allows us to live and exist. Art can demonstrate and connect us„. Her artistic account offers stories and visual representation of trauma as a new means to face with the past in order to start a new and meaningful dialogue and challenge the various forms of discrimination and violence in the present Europe. Ceija Stoika, was an outstanding Austrian Romani woman, one of the members of The Romani Elders of Europe, and a key figure for the history, art, and literature of Romani culture in Europe. Ceija Stojka is featured in the 2013 US documentary film "Forget Us Not", which follows several non-Jewish survivors of the Holocaust.

Ceija Stojka died on 28 January 2013.

Karl Stojka's story is told in the pedagogical and interactive website RomaSinti.eu, a Dutch initiative Tweedewereldoorlog.nl dedicated to World War II.