Austria: Former Czech Foreign Minister warns of racism
The Austrian Press Agency reports that yesterday former Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg was asked to address the Austrian Parliament as an honorary speaker on the occasion of the Day of the Fight against Violence and Racism there, where he called for vigilance regarding manifestations of racism. Austrians annually commemorate WWII-era persecution on 5 May, and this year's commemoration was dedicated to the victims of Terezín.
Two Czech survivors of Terezín spoke to MPs in Vienna. The Day of the Fight against Violence and Racism in Austria marks the anniversary of the liberation of the Mauthausen concentration camp.
In addition to victims of Terezín, this year's commemoration drew attention in particular to the life and works of musicians who were persecuted by the Nazis or died in concentration camps. Czech composer Hans Krása, who perished in 1944 in Auschwitz, was chosen to symbolically represent all of the artists murdered by the Nazis.
Krása's children's opera "Brundibár", which he composed in Terezín for a libretto by Adolf Hoffmeister, was performed in the Austrian Parliament. The session was opened by the chair of the lower house, Barbara Prammer, and was addressed by the chair of the upper house, Michael Lampel.
In his speech, Schwarzenberg pointed out that today the conviction often reigns that the tragic events of the past are a matter of concern to our fathers' and grandfathers' generations only - we are said to be forgetting that we ourselves could be guilty of similar behavior. "We believe that if we say 'Rom' instead of 'Gypsy", we have fulfilled our responsibility," he said.
"There can never be enough vigilance... evil must be nipped in the bud," Schwarzenberg emphasized. Eva Herrmannová and Dagmar Lieblová, two survivors of the prison at Terezín, then addressed the MPs as well.
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