72nd anniversary of the liberation of Mauthausen-Gusen
The Secretary of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Jan Dziedziczak, the Undersecretary of State in the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage Magdalena Gawin as well as a delegation of the Office of Veterans and Persecuted Persons and representatives of the Polish Parliament will attend the ceremonies commemorating the 72nd anniversary of the liberation of the German Nazi concentration camps in Mauthausen-Gusen.
The representatives of Polish leadership will be accompanied by delegations of former prisoners and representatives of veterans' organizations. Scouts from the Polish Scouting Association have also announced their participation. Members of the Austrian Polish community will also be present.
The series of events will begin on Friday 5 May with a youth meeting in Sankt Georgen an der Gusen, organized by the mayor of the town. The event will be attended by members of the Polish Scouting Association, amongst others. On the following day a meeting will take place at the Gusen Memorial, which will be attended – for the first time – by Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen.
Earlier he will also meet former Polish prisoners of the camp. On Sunday, commemorative events will take place at the Mauthausen Memorial. Also scheduled is a concert by musicians of the National Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra and Krakow’s "Camerata Silesia" choir, organized by the Polish Institute in Vienna.
The Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Vienna will organize a meeting with former prisoners of KL Mauthausen-Gusen and the Polish community, during which the Secretary of State at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Jan Dziedziczak will bestow Crosses of Freedom and Solidarity to prominent anti-communist activists in Poland. After the meeting the delegation will head to the church in Kahlenberg, where there is a symbolic grave of about 30,000 victims of KL Mauthausen-Gusen camps.
On May 9th Deputy Minister Jan Dziedziczak will also lay wreaths at the monument to victims in Wiener Neudorf and Guntramsdorf. The Polish Ambassador in Vienna Artur Lorkowski will open a seminar at the Diplomatic Academy in Vienna organized in cooperation with the Austrian Future Fund, during which the Polish-German Reconciliation Foundation will present the initiative of the Henryk Sławik European Education Center in Gusen.
Accompanying the aforementioned events will be an international conference titled "Killing Intellectuals. European Intellectual Elites under German Occupation 1939-1945 " co-organised by the Polish Institute in Vienna and the Witold Pilecki Centre for Research on Totalitarianism.
The conference, which is designed to stimulate a debate with academic circles on the extermination of intellectual elites in Europe occupied by the Third Reich, will be opened by Deputy Minister Jan Dziedziczak together with Deputy Minister Magdalena Gawin.
Also in Gusen, on Georgerstrasse, right next to the last crumbling remnants of the camp, the Museum of Polish History, together with the Polish Embassy in Vienna and the Ignacy Łukasiewicz PGNiG Foundation will present a plenary exhibition titled “GUSEN: Granite and Death, Memory and Forgetting’. The exhibition will be on display at the European Parliament in Brussels on the same day and from 29 May 2017 onwards will be shown at the University of Vienna.
The Mauthausen-Gusen camp complex consisted of 47 camps in present-day Austria, with the largest camps in Gusen, Mauthausen and Ebensee. It is estimated that there were no fewer than 190,000 prisoners in all camps. Poles accounted for about 25 per cent of all prisoners in the system and were the most numerous ethnic group. To date, over 80,000 victims of the camp system have been identified, including around 30,000 Poles.
For Poles, the three camps in Gusen, which had the toughest conditions in the Third Reich, carry special significance. The Gusen camps were built with the intent of destroying the Polish intelligentsia. This plan was consistently implemented. Most of the prisoners in the Gusen camps were Poles, many of them deported as part of the so-called "Intelligenzaktion." After the Warsaw Uprising, the inhabitants of the capital were transported to Gusen.