|Founded||1998, Innsbruck, Tyrol, Austria, by Andreas Maislinger|
|Focus||Holocaust remembrance, anti-semitism, anti-fascism, humanitarian aid, development aid, peace movement, environmental protection|
|Services||volunteering service, National service alternatives|
|Method||education, study trips, seminars, workshops, awards|
|Fields||memoria (remembrance), misericordia (mercy), pax (peace)|
The Austrian Service Abroad is a non-profit organization founded by Andreas Hörtnagl, Andreas Maislinger and Michael Prochazka in 1998, which sends young Austrians to work in partner institutions worldwide serving Holocaust commemoration in form of the Gedenkdienst, supporting vulnerable social groups and sustainability initiatives in form of the Austrian Social Service and realizing projects of peace within the framework of the Austrian Peace Service. Its services aim at the permanence of life on earth. The Austrian Service Abroad carries and promotes the idea of the House of Responsibility for the birthplace of Adolf Hitler in Braunau am Inn. The Austrian Service Abroad is the issuer of the annually conferred Austrian Holocaust Memorial Award. The program is funded by the Austrian government.
The Austrian Service Abroad has its origin in the acknowledgement of the Austrian government, in particular by chancellor Franz Vranitzky in 1991, regarding the Austrian people's share of responsibility for the crimes committed by National Socialism during WWII.The Austrian Service Abroad is an outflow of this recognition. The initiative initially started in form of the Gedenkdienst in 1992. In 1998 the organization Austrian Service Abroad was founded, adding the Austrian Social Service and the Austrian Peace Service.
The organisation provides young male Austrians a government funded alternative to the compulsory military service by sending them to institutions of Holocaust commemoration, social service or peace promotion for a time period of at least 10 months. In addition, it also provides volunteers (male & female) a platform to work in its partner institutions without age limitations for 6 to 12 months, while being financially supported by the Austrian government for their work abroad.
Before being sent out as Austrian Servants Abroad the candidates undergo a preparation period (typically 1,5 years) during which they are educated on the subject-matter relevant to their place of assignment. In addition, they are also being trained with professional skills via contributing to the work-flow of the organization.
Once a year the president of Austria and the Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs invite all Austrian Servants Abroad of the year before departure for a reception at the Hofburg and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs respectively. The Austrian Servants Abroad are commonly referred to as "little ambassadors of Austria".
The Austrian Service Abroad is headquartered in Innsbruck and has an office in Vienna. In addition, upcoming Austrian Servants Abroad physically meet monthly in the capital of each of the 9 federal states of Austria.
The Austrian Service Abroad is non-confessional and non-partisan.
The Austrian Service Abroad cooperates with the Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The servants abroad are obliged to cooperate with the Austrian embassy in their respective host country.
Examples of partner institutions / organizations are the Auschwitz Jewish Center in Oświęcim, Poland, Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, Israel, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre in Los Angeles and the World Jewish Congress in New York, United States, the Center of Jewish Studies Shanghai in Shanghai, China, the Russian Research and Educational Holocaust Center in Moscow, Russia, the Jewish Holocaust Centre in Melbourne, Australia, the Tom Lantos Institute in Budapest, Hungary, the Ashraya Initiative for Children in Pune, India and A chance for children in Zigoti, Uganda.
The Austrian Service Abroad is also a partner of the Israeli Volunteer Association partnering on the initiative Understanding Israel in conjunction with the Austrian Ministry of Social Affairs.
Originally named 'Association for Services Abroad' it was renamed to Austrian Service Abroad in 2006. Since 2001 Michael Prochazka is part of its managing committee.
A peaceful and socially humane world rooted in responsibility derived from the lessons of history.
Educating young people on the subjects of memoria (remembrance), misericordia (mercy) and pax (peace), derived from and aimed at responsibility, and sending them to serve at worldwide partner institutions remembering the crimes of Nazism and commemorating the victims of the Holocaust, supporting vulnerable social groups and realizing projects of peace, while being financially supported by their government.
The Austrian Service Abroad is funded and supervised by the Austrian Ministry of Social Affairs and subject to the Austrian Federal Act on the Promotion of Voluntary Services (Bundesgesetz zur Förderung von freiwilligem Engagement.)
Austrian Service Abroad offers three different types:
Gedenkdienst is the concept of facing and taking responsibility for the darkest chapters of one's own country's history while ideally being financially supported by one's own country's government to do so. Gedenkdienst has the acknowledgment of, the apology for and the assumption of responsibility for atrocities done by one's own country's society in history as its basis. Gedenkdienst is about honesty with one's country's past and the desire to rectify past wrongs. Gedenkdienst is about providing people of the perpetrator's side a platform for education and going to the victim's side to serve the remembrance of the evil done and the commemoration of its victims. Gedenkdienst is about peace on the basis of honesty regarding the past.
The program was founded in 1992 and has been a part of the association Austrian Service Abroad since 1998. It remembers the crimes of Nazism and commemorates its victims. Gedenkdiener work for Holocaust remembrance memorials and institutions as well as research facilities. Examples are the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, the World Jewish Congress in New York, the Jewish Museum Berlin, the Auschwitz Jewish Center in Oswiecim or Yad Vashem in Jerusalem.
In addition, Austrian Holocaust Memorial servants are also sent to serve in former refuge countries of the victim groups persecuted by the Nazis, for example to the Casa Stefan Zweig in Petrópolis (Brazil) or the Center of Jewish Studies Shanghai.
The program annually confers the Austrian Holocaust Memorial Award to actors "who have shown special endeavors for the memory of the Shoah".
Austrian social servants serve vulnerable social groups, support the economic and social development of the host country and contribute to environmental protection. They are active in projects relating to street-children, homeless people, educational projects and children villages, elderly and handicapped care, medical care, etc.
An example type of project is the improvement of drinking water supplies in countries of the Third World. Andreas Daniel Matt, the first Austrian social servant was sent in 2004 to a SOS children's village in Lahore (Pakistan).
Since October 1998 hundreds of Austrian social servants have been assigned mainly to countries in Central and South America, Africa and Asia.
Since 2018 the Austrian Service Abroad also partakes in the program Understanding Israel, sending young Austrians to do social service at child-care places and handicapped-care facilities in the state of Israel in cooperation with the Israeli Volunteer Association.
Austrian Peace servants are stationed in organizations serving the achievement and protection of peace in connection with (armed) conflicts. They work, for example, at the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation in Japan, the John Rabe House in Nanjing, China, the Dayton International Peace Museum in Ohio, USA, the Peace Palace in The Hague and the Centre for Peace, Nonviolence and Human Rights in Osijek, Croatia.
On September 3 2019 the Austrian Service Abroad received the John Rabe Peace Award, issued by the John Rabe Communication Centre, for the contributions of the Austrian Service Abroad for peace between different cultures.
The International Council is the advisory arm for the executive committee of the Austrian Service Abroad regarding all matters of the respective country.
The national council is the domestic advisory arm for the executive committee of the Austrian Service Abroad.
The US is currently the country with the largest number of places offered for Holocaust Memorial Service. Holocaust Museums and Memorial Institutions like the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation in Los Angeles received several Holocaust Memorial Servants since the 1990s.
At present, Austrian Service Abroad sends young Austrians to the following partner institutions:
In 2006 Andreas Maislinger, chairman of the Austrian Service Abroad, initiated the Austrian Holocaust Memorial Award (AHMA). Winners:
2006: Pan Guang,Shanghai, PR China.
2007: Alberto Dines, Sao Paulo, Brazil
2008: Robert Hébras, Oradour-sur-Glane, France
2009: Jay M. Ipson, Richmond, Virginia, United States
2010: Eva Marks, Melbourne, Australia
2011: Auschwitz Jewish Center, Oswiecim, Poland
2012: Ladislaus Löb, United Kingdom
2013: Hugo Höllenreiner, Munich, Germany
2014: Marģers Vestermanis, Riga, Latvia
2015: Erika Rosenberg, Buenos Aires, Argentina
2016: Giorgio Frassineti, Predappio (Forlì), Italy
2017: Ruben Fuks, Belgrade, Serbia
2018: Alla Gerber and Ilya Altman, Moscow, Russia
2019: Tomislav Dulic, Uppsala, Sweden
2020: Dušan Stefančič, Ljubljana, Slovenia
2004 Stefan Stoev, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington DC, United States
2005 Dr. Andreas Daniel Matt, SOS Children's Villages Lahore, Pakistan
2006 Martin Wallner, Center of Jewish Studies Shanghai, China
2007 Daniel James Schuster, Yad Vashem Jerusalem, Israel
2008 René J. Laglstorfer, Centre de la mémoire d'Oradour, France & Center of Jewish Studies Shanghai, China
2009 Joerg Reitmaier, Auschwitz Jewish Center, Poland & Virginia Holocaust Museum, United States
2010 Peter Loibner, GU SRZ Vera, Russia
2011 Francesco Konigsberger, Federation of Jewish Communities, Czech Republic,
Cornelius Schwärzler, Russian Research and Educational Holocaust Center, Russia & Fondazione Museo della Shoa, Italy & Dokumentation Obersalzberg, Germany,
David Witzeneder, Tropical Field Station La Gamba & Finca Salvador, Costa Rica
2020 Jonathan Dorner, Holocaust Museum LA
Monika Messner, Na’amat Kindertagesstätte
2021 Raphael Faul, Florian Müller, Matthias Kralupper, Haris Hadzimejlic, Raffael Winkler
The core concept underlying the initiative of the Austrian Service Abroad is the concept of responsibility. Hereby the initiative is guided by the ethics conceptualized by the Jewish philosopher Hans Jonas who defined the following supreme moral imperative: "Act so that the effects of your action are compatible with the permanence of genuine human life".By integrating the chronological dimensions of past, present and future, in addition to the totality of humanity and the full dimension of space, the Austrian Service Abroad is about supporting life in an ethical, sustainable, global, responsible and permanent manner.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC) is a Jewish human rights organization established in 1977 by Rabbi Marvin Hier. The Center is known for Holocaust research and remembrance, hunting Nazi war criminals, combating anti-Semitism, tolerance education, defending Israel, and its Museum of Tolerance.
Andreas Maislinger is an Austrian historian and political scientist and founder and chairman of the Austrian Service Abroad, including the Gedenkdienst, the Austrian Social Service and the Austrian Peace Service. He also is the founder of the Austrian Holocaust Memorial Award, the Braunau Contemporary History Days and the inventor of the idea of the House of Responsibility regarding the birthplace of Adolf Hitler.
Gedenkdienst is the concept of facing and taking responsibility for the darkest chapters of one's own country's history while ideally being financially supported by one's own country's government to do so. Founded in Austria in 1992 by Andreas Maislinger the Gedenkdienst is an alternative to Austria's compulsory national military service as well as a volunteering platform for Austrians to work in Holocaust- and Jewish culture-related institutions around the world with governmental financial support. In Austria it is also referred to as Austrian Holocaust Memorial Service provided by the Austrian Service Abroad. The Austrian Gedenkdienst serves the remembrance of the crimes of Nazism, commemorates its victims and supports Jewish cultural future. The program is rooted in the acknoledgment of responsibility by the Austrian government for the crimes committed by National Socialism.
The Austrian Social Service is part of the Austrian Service Abroad founded by Dr. Andreas Maislinger in 1998. It offers the possibility to substitute the compulsory military service in Austria with a 10-months service abroad and provides a platform for volunteering services.
The House of Responsibility (HRB) in Braunau am Inn is the idea of establishing an international meeting place and a place of learning in the birth house of Adolf Hitler. People from all countries, backgrounds, religions and cultures should meet in order to discuss, learn and develop projects revolving around the concept of responsibility relating to the dimensions of past, present and future. The main demography shall be young people. The idea for a House of Responsibility originates from the founder of the Gedenkdienst and chairman of the Austrian Service Abroad Dr. Andreas Maislinger.
The Austrian Peace Service is one of the three sections of the non-profit organisation Austrian Service Abroad and offers a 6-12 months voluntary service at its partner institutions. Male Austrians may accredit their Austrian Peace Service as an alternative to the Austrian national or military service, provided their service abroad lasted a minimum of 10 months. Austrian Peace Servants are financially supported by the Austrian government.
Simon Wiesenthal was a Jewish Austrian Holocaust survivor, Nazi hunter, and writer. He studied architecture and was living in Lwów at the outbreak of World War II. He survived the Janowska concentration camp, the Kraków-Płaszów concentration camp, the Gross-Rosen concentration camp, a death march to Chemnitz, Buchenwald, and the Mauthausen concentration camp.
Holocaust survivors are people who survived the Holocaust, defined as the persecution and attempted annihilation of the Jews by Nazi Germany and its allies before and during World War II in Europe and North Africa. There is no universally accepted definition of the term, and it has been applied variously to Jews who survived the war in German-occupied Europe or other Axis territories, as well as to those who fled to Allied and neutral countries before or during the war. In some cases, non-Jews who also experienced collective persecution under the Nazi regime are also considered Holocaust survivors. The definition has evolved over time.
The Austrian Holocaust Memorial Award (AHMA) was founded by the Austrian Service Abroad in 2006.
The Center for Jewish Studies Shanghai was established in 1988. It is a department of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences. Under the leadership of Dean Professor Pan Guang CJSS has become the most influential research institute in China studying Judaism and Israeli affairs.
The Action Reconciliation Service for Peace is a German peace organization founded to confront the legacy of Nazism.
Vilna Gaon Jewish State Museum is a Lithuanian museum dedicated to the historical and cultural heritage of Lithuanian Jewry.
The John Rabe House (拉贝故居), located at Xiaofenqiao No. 1 (小粉桥1号) in Nanjing, China, was where John Rabe stayed during the Nanking Massacre and protected more than 600 Chinese refugees in this house, and within its garden, from Japanese persecution. Today it accommodates the “John Rabe and International Safety Zone Memorial Hall” and the “John Rabe Research and Exchange Centre for Peace and Reconciliation.”
Michael Prochazka is an Austrian social scientist and economist and vice-chairman of the Austrian Service Abroad.
The Melbourne Holocaust Museum (MHM) was founded in Elsternwick, Melbourne, Australia, in 1984 by Holocaust survivors. It is currently Australia’s largest institution dedicated to Holocaust education, research & remembrance. Its mission is to commemorate the six million Jews murdered by the Nazis between 1933 and 1945.
Holocaust studies, or sometimes Holocaust research, is a scholarly discipline that encompasses the historical research and study of the Holocaust. Institutions dedicated to Holocaust research investigate the multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary aspects of Holocaust methodology, demography, sociology, and psychology. It also covers the study of Nazi Germany, World War II, Jewish history, religion, Christian-Jewish relations, Holocaust theology, ethics, social responsibility, and genocide on a global scale. Exploring trauma, memories, and testimonies of the experiences of Holocaust survivors, human rights, international relations, Jewish life, Judaism, and Jewish identity in the post-Holocaust world are also covered in this type of research.
The Russian Research and Educational Holocaust Center was founded in 1992 in Moscow and has since then been working on awareness raising of the Holocaust in the Russian society. It is the only non-governmental organization in the Russian Federation, devoted to the study of the life of Soviet Jews during the Great Patriotic War.
Stefan Stoev is an Austrian entrepreneur, philanthropist and supporter of the arts.
Naomi Kramer is a Canadian curator and president of the Holocaust Education and Genocide Prevention Foundation.