‘Auschwitz did not fall from the sky’

Austria is using art to come to terms with its dark role during Nazism — but is that enough to counter the recent rise of antisemitism?

“The racism and anti-Semitism of the National Socialists did not fall from the sky. The concentration and extermination camps did not fall from the sky. ‘Auschwitz’ did not fall from the sky.” These were the first words of Austria’s president Alexander Van der Bellen at the opening of the new Austrian national exhibition in the former concentration camp Auschwitz. “Many citizens of our country, some in a leading position, were among the perpetrators in this extermination program.” Antisemitism and racism were highly prevalent in Austrian society before March 1938. “The ground was prepared; the seed was sown when Nazi Germany marched into Austria in March 1938 to thousands of cheers at Heldenplatz.”


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