Vienna, 20 October 2005 Press release

Plassnik: "A bridge to the future"


From forced labour compensation to education for tolerance

Vienna, 20 October 2005 - "In this new century we are approaching difficult questions with a new awareness. We do not shy away from painful knowledge about the past, but hand it on to our young people for their way into the future. Based on the foundations laid by the efforts of the Federal Government in connection with the compensation of forced labourers of the National Socialist era, with the Fund for the Future we are building a bridge to tomorrow", said Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik, welcoming the decision of the National Council to install the "Fund for the Future" with the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

Endowed with approximately 20 million euros, the Fund for the Future will promote projects and academic work in the interests and in commemoration of the victims of the Nazi regime, serve as a reminder of the threat posed by totalitarian systems and dictatorships, and carry out the remaining tasks of the Reconciliation Fund. "With this Fund, we will carry forward the endeavours undertaken in the spirit of reconciliation", said Plassnik.

"I see this Fund as a bridge to the future. Tolerance and non-discrimination are the basic prerequisites for a life in which each of us has our own protected place in society and can pursue our self-fulfillment in freedom and security", continued the Foreign Minister. Knowledge and awareness of the horrors of the past and education for tolerance were the prerequisites for a secure future.

The establishment of the Fund for the Future is part of a package solution for the utilisation of unused funds earmarked for the Austrian Reconciliation Fund for former forced labourers. The use of these resources through a Fund for the Future is based upon a decision taken by the international Board of Trustees of the Austrian Reconciliation Fund in December 2004.

"On this occasion I would like to express my utmost appreciation for the work and services rendered to the Republic of Austria by Maria Schaumayer, Ludwig Steiner, Richard Wotava, and Hans Winkler. Through their work for the Reconciliation Fund, they have proved that with dedicated human and political commitment you can effect many positive changes", concluded Plassnik.