The Austrian National Council, the country’s lower house, has cleared the way for the new Simon Wiesenthal Prize honouring civil society initiatives against antisemitism, with all parliamentary groups represented in the Council voting in favour, with the exception of the far-right FPÖ.
The 30,000 euro prize will be granted annually to up to three people or groups of people for their special commitment to civil society Awarded antisemitism and for promoting Holocaust education.
The prize is named after the architect, publicist and writer Simon Wiesenthal, who after his liberation from Mauthausen in May 1945 devoted his life to bringing Nazi war criminals to justice.
“Simon Wiesenthal was a great Austrian who did not receive appropriate recognition in life”, said the President of the Austrian National Council, Wolfgang Sobotka. “Antisemitism in all its forms has no place in Austria and in all of Europe, and this prize should encourage others to raise their voice against it,” he added.
In a written statement, Simon Wiesenthal’s daughter Paulinka Kreisberg-Wiesenthal stated: “Especially today at a time when racism, antisemitism and Holocaust denial are on the rise, Austria’s decision to set up a Simon Wiesenthal Prize is very much of great importance “, adding that her father would have felt it a great honor that the award bears his name. “This prize not only recognizes his life’s work, but above all it’s an expression of the position of the Austrian Republic.”
Oskar Deutsch, the President of the Jewish community of Vienna (IKG), the country’s EJC affiliate, paid tribute to Simon Wiesenthal, saying: “‘Right, not revenge’ [Recht, nicht Rache] is the quintessence of his life’s work and the central leitmotif of the greatest Personalities of the Second Austrian Republic,” noting that Wiesenthal opposed all forms of injustice, dictatorship and antisemitism.
Pictured: National Council President Wolfgang Sobotka and Racheli Kreisberg, granddaughter of Simon Wiesenthal.