Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Times: Austria remembers victims of Nazism, end of WWII

Monday, May 9, 2011, by AFP

Holocaust survivors and Austrian politicians commemorated the end of World War II yesterday with a ceremony at the former Nazi concentration camp of Mauthausen.

But a planned demonstration by the far-right later yesterday drew fierce criticism from the political mainstream.

Some 7,000 people, including former Mauthausen prisoners, youth representatives and delegations from different countries, commemorated the liberation of the concentration camp just days before Nazi Germany surrendered on May 8, 1945.

This year’s event focused on the system that facilitated the murder of millions of Jews, homosexuals, Communists, gypsies and other victims of the Nazi regime.

“The Nazis’ network of terror could only function because there was also an informal network of collaborators,” Willi Mernyi, head of the Mauthausen Committee, which works to preserve the memory of Nazi victims, told the crowd.

These included everyday spies and informers who cooperated of their own free will, he said.

Those present at the ceremony included Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner, president of parliament Barbara Prammer, Social Affairs Minister Rudolf Hundstorfer and Health Minister Alois Stoeger.

Some 200,000 prisoners are estimated to have gone through the Mauthausen network of camps in northern Austria, half of whom perished there.

In a separate statement, Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann called yesterday for “an honest coming-to-terms with the history of our country”, 66 years after the end of the war.

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