Österreich

40 Jahre Welser Initiative gegen Faschismus: Jubiläum mit Festakt und Harald Krassnitzer – Antifa Wels

Wels celebrates the 40th anniversary of the Welser Initiative, an organization that was instrumental in removing three symbols with Nazi-related connotations from the city. These symbols included a memorial plaque for the Waffen-SS Kameradschaft IV in a municipal chapel, a street named after the author of a song with Nazi references, and a hall named after a former NSDAP training leader. The Welser Initiative, also known as Antifa Wels, has been actively involved in promoting awareness of Austria’s Nazi past and creating memorial sites, such as the memorial for Jews from Wels. The removal of the Nazi symbols disproves the argument that removing such commemorations erases history, as the ongoing engagement with the city’s past remains vibrant and active.

Wels, historically known as a stronghold of both Nazism and communist resistance, continues to be a site of intense debates. The recent controversy surrounding the blue mayor of Wels, Andreas Rabl, who sought to join the board of the Holocaust memorial organization Yad Vashem, highlights these ongoing tensions. Rabl’s candidacy was strongly criticized by Oskar Deutsch, the president of the Jewish Community and Willi Mernyi, the chairman of the Mauthausen Committee. Yad Vashem’s director even threatened to revoke the organization’s permission to use its name due to concerns about the backgrounds and political affiliations of the candidates. However, the list with Rabl as a candidate was ultimately withdrawn by the mayor of Linz, rendering the debate moot.

The prominence of these debates reflects the continuing importance of addressing Austria’s history, and the Welser Initiative has played a significant role in this ongoing effort. The anniversary celebration will take place at the Schloss Puchberg Education Center, where actor Harald Krassnitzer will give a keynote speech, and a chronology of the organization’s history will be presented.

Overall, Wels‘ engagement with its past serves as a notable example of confronting and learning from history, persistently striving for remembrance and understanding.

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