Award ceremony in honor of an outstanding personality in Austrian history
Vienna (PK) – For special achievements in the field of commemoration, remembrance and awareness work, the Hans Maršálek Prize was awarded today for the third time. The President of the Second National Council Doris Bures together with the Mauthausen Committee Austria (MKÖ) and the Austrian Camp Community Mauthausen (ÖLM) invited to the Parliament. The award commemorates the contemporary witness and resistance fighter against National Socialism Hans Maršálek, who dedicated his life after World War II to researching and documenting the history of the concentration camp Mauthausen and its subcamps. After the introductory words of Parliamentary Director Harald Dossi and Chairman of the MKÖ Willi Mernyi, three main prizes, four appreciation prizes and 20 certificates of recognition were presented to honor projects that are in the spirit of Maršálek and work in the spirit of enlightenment about National Socialism.
Dossi: Maršálek looked back without hatred despite suffering cruelty
In his opening remarks, Parliamentary Director Harald Dossi referred to the formative personality Hans Maršálek and his achievements. Many would remember Maršálek in awe, who was arrested by the Nazi regime and deported to Mauthausen, where he experienced unspeakable violence, cruelty and inhumanity. Despite all this, he managed to look back on that time without hatred after the liberation, Dossi explained, recalling the archival work carried out by Maršálek. He was also significantly involved in the planning of the Mauthausen Memorial.
Maršálek had provided entire generations of researchers and students with his extensive knowledge, and he had regularly sought contact with youth organizations and churches in order to carry out remembrance work together with them. Finally, he had also been an important initiator for the development of the Mauthausen Committee, which had become an indispensable institution in the Austrian culture of remembrance and consistently carried out its work in the service of the victims and survivors.
Mernyi: Maršálek combined hair-sharp intellect with outstanding empathy
The chairman of the Mauthausen Committee Willi Mernyi expressed his joy that the prizes could finally be presented in person after the long pandemic period. He said that many of the applications had already been submitted in 2020. In addition, he said, he was proud to be able to present these awards in honor of Hans Maršálek, who represented the “most impressive political personality” he had ever had the privilege of meeting. Maršálek had both a “hair-trigger mind” and outstanding empathy, which Mernyi illustrated with personal anecdotes about him. Although he had been responsible for saving many lives during the Nazi regime, he had not spent the time after the war telling his heroic stories. Instead, Maršálek worked to ensure that such calamities could never happen again, Mernyi said.
1st Prize: “Moments of Resistance”
The first prize was awarded to the Association for the Promotion of Communicative Interventions for their project “Moments of Resistance.” The project, which consists of a website and documentary film, focuses on the value of civil courage, both in the context of the National Socialist era and in relation to the present. Two workshops were held in Vienna and Linz to test how teachers can use the website in the classroom. Students are able to discover historical testimonies and relate them to their own life situation.
Laudator Willi Mernyi reported on the complex process of selecting the winning project from all the projects he deemed suitable. He said that the jury had finally chosen “Moments of Resistance” because it was most in keeping with Maršálek’s spirit. According to Mernyi, the latter had taken the position: “Take care of the young, because the old Nazis are dying anyway.” Moreover, he said, the project is not merely limited to research, but at the same time makes the results applicable. It is an “encouragement project.” Civil courage begins with small, persistent disobedience, and numerous courageous people during the Nazi era demonstrated what resistance can do. Even today, it is important for every individual to stand up for a society with equal rights for all, even in everyday life, said Mernyi.
2nd prize: “Vermessungsamt”
The exhibition and publication “Vermessungsamt” by the Association for Industrial Culture and Everyday History (VIA) was honored with the second prize. The project dealt with the Nazi regime’s racial research in the then predominantly Slovene-speaking community of St. Jakob im Rosental (Carinthia). In the course of the research by Werner Koroschitz, who gave the idea, the original documents on the investigations carried out in 1938 were found at the Department of Evolutionary Anthropology at the University of Vienna. Until then, such comprehensive anthropological surveys of civilians were de facto unknown in Austria. The project creates an awareness of the ideological misuse of science, whereby supposedly incontrovertible justifications for deportation, expropriation and murder could be provided, as stated in the laudation.
3rd prize for MS Gunskirchen’s contribution to commemoration
The Gunskirchen secondary school received the third prize for the contribution it has made since 1981 to the commemoration of the liberation of the Gunskirchen subcamp. In addition to educating students about the horrors of National Socialism, the teachers see it as their task to impart values such as democracy, tolerance and love of one’s neighbor to the students, in order to educate them to become responsible human beings through an examination of history. The prize was accepted by two teachers from the secondary school. A video message of the concentration camp survivor Daniel Chanoch was played at the award ceremony. He told about his experiences during the liberation of the subcamp by the US Army and about his cooperation with the Mauthausen Committee.
The appreciation and recognition prizes for extraordinary commitment to remembrance work
In addition to the main prizes, four appreciation prizes were also awarded – two each by the MKÖ and two by the Comité International de Mauthausen (CIM). For example, the MKÖ honored the VHS Hietzing for its multifaceted commitment to remembrance policy within the framework of the project “Jews in Hietzing”. Willi Mernyi explained that this project not only involved tireless research, but also invited the residents of Hietzing to deal with the history of the places where they lived. In the scientific literature, for example, the “Hietzing model” of remembrance work is already being written about.
The second MKÖ award went to the memorial association of the Guntramsdorf/Vienna Neudorf subcamp for the “incredibly long period” of successful awareness-raising. The association’s largest project to date is the “Park of Remembrance” in Wiener Neudorf, which was implemented under the direction of Jürgen Gangoly with an international architectural competition and unanimously approved by the municipal council.
The CIM’s appreciation awards were presented by its president Guy Dockendorf. The project “ART WORKS! European Culture of Resistance and Liberation” by the association “Hasenherz”, in which young people from all over Europe work through the history of their countries in an artistic context, and the publication “Kind am Stacheldraht” (Child on Barbed Wire), in which contemporary witness Franz Trampusch presents his personal documentation of the Aflenz subcamp.
In addition, 20 certificates of recognition were awarded. During the laudation, Helmut Edelmayr, founding member of the MKÖ, reported on the difficult task of selecting only a few award winners from 64 “outstanding projects”. Therefore one decided to honor still 20 further projects in this way for the outstanding commitment. (End) wit
NOTE: Photos from this event can be found on the Parliament website.
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