Day of Remembrance Against Violence and Racism in Memory of the Victims of National Socialism in Austria Date in the current year: May 5, 2022

Day of Remembrance Against Violence and Racism in Memory of the Victims of National Socialism in Austria The Day of Remembrance Against Violence and Racism in Memory of the Victims of National Socialism (Gedenktag gegen Gewalt und Rassismus im Gedenken an die Opfer des Nationalsozialismus) is a national remembrance day in Austria observed annually on May 5.

Austria was annexed by the Nazi Germany on March 12, 1938; this event is commonly referred to as the Anschluss. Five months later, prisoners from Dachau, a concentration camp near Munich, were sent to the Austrian town of Mauthausen to begin the construction of a prison camp there.

At first, Mauthausen indeed was a prison camp for common criminals. However, in May 1939, the Nazi authorities converted it to a labor camp for political prisoners who opposed the regime. Throughout the war, Mauthausen was constantly expanding to accommodate the ever-growing number of prisoners; by the end of the war, the complex consisted of the main camp and dozens of subcamps, including camps for women and children.

Mauthausen was the most productive and profitable of the Nazi slave camps; dozens of companies, ranging from national corporations to small firms and local farms, used the labor of its prisoners. It was also an extermination camp, where the Nazis imprisoned and murdered their ideological and political enemies, both real and imagined. Mauthausen was one of the few concentration camps in the West to regularly use a gas chamber.

Although the exact death toll of Mauthausen and its subcamps is unknown due to the Germans destroying most of the evidence, it is believed that more than 90,000 people died at Mauthausen or one of its many subcamps; it is almost half of all the people deported to the camp during the war. Mauthausen was liberated by American forces on May 5, 1945.

A remembrance day was established to honor the memory of the victims of the atrocities that were committed in Austria under National Socialism, the period of the country’s history that lasted from the Anschluss on March 12, 1938 to the surrender of Germany in World War II on May 8, 1945. Its date, May 5, was chosen to commemorate the liberation of Mauthausen.

The Day of Remembrance Against Violence and Racism in Memory of the Victims of National Socialism was unanimously established by all parties in the Austrian Parliament in November 1997 and observed for the first time on May 5, 1998. While many European countries observe Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27 — the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp — Austria chose to commemorate the victims of National Socialism on a date which is specifically tied to Austrian history.

The remembrance day has an official status, but it is not a public holiday. During the day, all national flags are flown at half-mast. Schools and other institutions host commemorative events dedicated to the victims of National Socialism, and the Austrian Parliament meets for a special session to commemorate the victims. On the first Sunday after May 5, a remembrance ceremony is held at the Mauthausen national memorial.

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Category

Anniversaries and Memorial Days

Country

Austria

Tags

Day of Remembrance Against Violence and Racism in Memory of the Victims of National Socialism, observances in Austria, Mauthausen