Vienna, 30 October 2008 - Today, State Secretary Hans Winkler awarded Professor Yehuda Bauer, Honorary Chairman of the International Holocaust Task Force (ITF) the Grand Decoration of Honour in Gold for Services to the Republic of Austria.
Born in Prague in 1926, Bauer emigrated to Palestine in 1939, where he began his international academic career, to eventually become one of the leading researchers on the holocaust worldwide. From 1996 to 2000, Bauer served as Director of the International Centre for Holocaust Studies in Yad Vashem. Today he still acts as a scientific adviser to the centre, just as he has been for the ITF since its establishment in 1998. Bauer received the Israel Prize in 1998.
In his eulogy, Winkler stressed that the actions and work of Professor Bauer are particularly characterized by the fact that he repeatedly emphasized the uniqueness of the Holocaust through several studies, without ignoring other forms of genocide or mass murder, and without violating the dignity of the victims once again. Never before had anyone attempted to exterminate people all over the world due to their origin. With his courage, his exceptional sense for sensitivities, his conviction and his aspiration, Bauer managed to subject the time of the Holocaust to a radical demystification, and to contribute to a genuine culture of remembrance. As a result of his long experience and intensive study of the Shoa, Bauer has become an indispensable adviser for Austria in recent years. The fact that Austria became a member of the ITF is largely due to his contribution. Yehuda Bauer has always been a great friend of Austria, who has always acknowledged Austria’s efforts to come to terms with the dark side of its past. Austria – like other countries, too – needs a targeted and exemplary remembrance of the causes and the sheer unthinkable consequences of Nazism. Despite all efforts, there is still a lack of awareness among the broader public. Especially in the commemorative year 2008, increasing focus must be placed on education, research, and commemoration so as to achieve a sustainable change in the minds and the awareness of the people seventy years later.
Austria is currently presiding the International Holocaust Task Force. The ITF comprises 25 Member States, including Israel and the USA, as well as all European countries affected by the Holocaust. They are all committed to the "Stockholm Declaration" and are engaged in the implementation of national strategies and programs to support education and research on the topic of the Holocaust and remembrance. On 10 November 2008, Professor Bauer will deliver a complimentary speech at an event organized by ITF and the OSCE in the Vienna Hofburg to commemorate the pogrom of November 1938.
Federal Ministry for
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