Aus­trian youth meets Shoah sur­vivors

The Jewish Chronicle - - Community - BY ROBYNROSEN

AN AUS­TRIAN STU­DENT who has spent a year work­ing with Holo­caust sur­vivors in Bri­tain says the ex­pe­ri­ence has made “a huge im­pact” on him.

Philipp En­gel, 19, has fin­ished his stint with the Lon­don Jewish Cul­tural Cen­tre's Holo­caust and anti-racism ed­u­ca­tion depart­ment as part of the Ge­denk­di­enst (ser­vants to mem­ory) scheme.

Run in con­junc­tion with the Aus­trian Com­mem­o­ra­tive Ser­vice, the scheme sends 20 young Aus­tri­ans to work for a year at sites re­lated to Holo- caust ed­u­ca­tion, as an al­ter­na­tive to com­pul­sory na­tional ser­vice.

Mr En­gel, who has stayed in Lon­don to study Euro­pean so­cial and po­lit­i­cal stud­ies at UCL, said it had been “amaz­ing to work with the sur­vivors. I’m so touched that I was able to meet th­ese peo­ple. Their at­ti­tude to­wards life im­pressed me so much.

“I some­times ask my­self if I feel guilty be­cause of the Aus­trian his­tory. Even though it wasn’t my gen­er­a­tion, I feel I have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to do some­thing so that things like this never hap­pen again.”

He added: “I’m also more aware of Jewish cul­ture in gen­eral. It was re­ally eye-open­ing.”

Aus­trian Am­bas­sador Gabriele Matzner-Holzer at­tended a re­cep­tion at the Lon­don Jewish Cul­tural Cen­tre to wel­come Lukas Stieger, who will take over from Mr En­gel.

Dr Matzner-Holzer said: “The LJCC and the Aus­trian Holo­caust sur­vivors pro­vide such in­valu­able per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence and in­sights to young Aus­tri­ans.

“This ex­pe­ri­ence of hav­ing worked with Aus­trian sur­vivors will have broad­ened their hori­zon and greatly in­flu­enced their world views.”

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