Tuesday, January 29, 2013

January 29th

Today it was actually pretty warm, it was about 30 degrees outside (instead of being below 20 with an additional wind chill). We took a walking tour throughout Vienna to try and find some of the buildings that had history involved with the Holocaust, however very few of these buildings are even memorialized so unless you know where to look its almost impossible to find them. We first went to an active synagogue which survived the Night of Broken Glass because it was very small and attached to other buildings, so a fire there would have burned down the whole block.

After that we went to the third district where a group of private citizens have been raising money to place small plaques around the city to try and memorialize what happened in Vienna that is connected to the Holocaust. They raise the money on their own and are not funded by the government in any way, these people just want to find out about the history of their home and make sure that others are aware of what happened. The first plaque that we saw was on the sidewalk in front of a building that had been a school for Jewish children during the 30's.

Then we walked around the corner to another site that was memorialized with a plaque, this one was a house where 380 Jewish people were held for a few weeks before being deported to camps. Of these 380 people only 2 survived the camps. This house was also not all that large, its almost impossible for me to imagine what it must have been like for so many people to be locked into that house together with no idea of what was going to happen to them.

We walked a few more blocks until we came to the next plaque which was in front of an apartment building where 29 men, women, and children were taken from their homes and deported. For 29 people to be taken from that building, half of the units in it must have been emptied out in a matter of days.

The next place that we went to was just another few blocks walk from the apartment building. This used to be a small synagogue which was almost completely destroyed by Nazi sympathizers on the Night of Broken Glass. The building is still there, however it is now used by an Artist as a studio.

Its really hard for me to understand why there are no memorials created by the government of Austria to Holocaust. I feel like it is a history that cannot be ignored and the only way to stop some things from happening again is to have some type of education that shows why these actions are wrong and to show the extent of what actually happened instead of trying to cover it up would probably be the first step. I also don't understand why people will live and work in places that are so closely related to the holocaust and to what happened in Vienna. I feel like if people refused to live and work in these places then the government would be forced to take some steps to correct their lack of memorization or education.

The last thing we did today was visit the site of one of the biggest synagogues in Vienna, it was completely destroyed during the Night of Broken Glass but there are pillars and a large plaque showing where it once stood. The site is owned by the Jewish community still and they have some type of office on that lot now.

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