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Tribute ceremony to the National Fund of the Republic of Austria for Victims of National Socialism

From L to R: Mrs. Hannah Lessing, Secretary General of the National Fund of Austria for Victims of National Socialism, Dr. Renate Meissner, Deputy Secretary General of the National Fund, Mrs. Evelina Merhaut National Fund Project Manager and Mr. Avner Shalev, Chairman of the Yad Vashem DirectorateFrom L to R: Mrs. Hannah Lessing, Secretary General of the National Fund of Austria for Victims of National Socialism, Dr. Renate Meissner, Deputy Secretary General of the National Fund, Mrs. Evelina Merhaut National Fund Project Manager and Mr. Avner Shalev, Chairman of the Yad Vashem Directorate

On December 14, 2011, an event to pay tribute to the National Fund of the Republic of Austria for Victims of National Socialism was held at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust remembrance and education center in Jerusalem, in recognition of the Fund’s generous support of various Yad Vashem projects since 2005.  Over the past few years, the Austrian National Fund has generously supported the collection and cataloguing of Austrian Holocaust documentation, and the filming and cataloguing of documentation regarding the confiscation of Jewish property in Austria, as well the "My Homeland: Holocaust Survivors in Israel" and "Spots of Light: To be a Woman in the Holocaust” exhibitions.

Wednesday’s event at Yad Vashem began with a guided tour of the “With me are six million accusers: 50th anniversary of the Eichmann Trial in Jerusalem” exhibition, followed by a memorial ceremony in the Hall of Remembrance. During the ceremony Hanna Lessing, Secretary General of the National Fund rekindled the eternal flame in memory of the Jews murdered in the Holocaust, and layed a wreath together with H.E. Dr. Franz Josef Kugllitsch Ambassador of Austria in Israel on behalf of the Fund.

After the memorial ceremony the participants continued to the unveiling of the Donors' plaque located on the donors’ wall in the main entrance square of the Yad Vashem Campus. H.E. Dr. Franz Josef Kuglitsch, representatives of the Fund: Mrs. Hannah Lessing, Mrs. Evelina Merhaut National Fund Project Manager, and Dr. Renate Meissner, Deputy Secretary General of the National Fund and representatives of  Yad Vashem: Mr. Avner Shalev, Chairman of the Yad Vashem Directorate, Mr. Shaya Ben-Yehuda the Managing Director of the International Relations Division, Mr. Arie Zuckerman, Special Advisor to the Chairman of the Yad Vashem Directorate and directors of Yad Vashem departments participated in the main ceremony in the Lecture hall of the International Scholl for Holocaust Studies. The ceremony included addresses of the Avner Shalev, Hannah Lessing, and H.E. Dr. Franz Josef Kuglitsch and presentation of a small token of appreciation to the National Fund by Mr. Shalev.

Speaking about the Fund’s long term support of Yad Vashem, Ms Lessing spoke about the importance of remembrance.  “This is especially important today, at a turning point in history when the voices of the survivors are growing fainter,” she said in reiterating the Fund’s commitment to Yad Vashem. “The stories of the lives and – even more importantly – the stories of the deaths of the millions of victims deserve to be preserved. This is an important part of our responsibility in Austria today – not to allow the consequences of the crimes committed 70 years ago to be perpetuated by letting the memories of the victims slip away.”

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