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Reviewing 1945: Eleven new perspectives

This exhibition is the first joint presentation of the House of Austrian History and the ten state museums of Austria and South Tyrol
It provides new insights into the end of the Second World War. At this time, the territory of present-day Austria faced extremes: while in some places Nazi rule continued a reign of terror, elsewhere processes of democratisation were initiated. Eleven extraordinary objects open up new perspectives on the last days of Nazi terror, the founding of the Second Republic and the long-term impact of these contradictory times.

Visit the exhibition at https://1945.hdgoe.at/

In Between: Photographs of Spring and Summer 1945

75 years after the end of Nazi rule, this digital exhibition examines the ways in which contemporaries visualised their experiences at the time. Photographs of such events are never neutral: At the end of the war, it was important for many Austrians to prove their status as victims – so they constantly emphasised the destruction and scarcity they suffered. By contrast, the occupying powers initially wanted to draw attention to their own prowess during the war, going on to show how quickly they managed to create order and normality. Some of these photographs are voyeuristic. They make use of the fascination that war exerts as an extreme situation. For example, military offensives were repeated for the camera and scenes of triumph re-enacted.

Have a look at the exhibition here.

Non-committal memory: The ambivalent inclusion of Romani suffering under National Socialism in hegemonic cultural memory (2018)

Stefan Benedik, Non-committal memory: The ambivalent inclusion of Romani suffering under National Socialism in hegemonic cultural memory. In: Memory Studies. 



This article compares the place of Romani migrants in contemporary Austrian society to their position in memory debates. It analyses official forms of commemoration which had the intentions not only to remember the victims of past atrocities, but also included a normative, moral aspect – namely, the promise that memory of past injustice would somehow be a useful device against racism, injustice and discrimination in the present day. In this understanding, history, especially the history of National Socialism would ideally teach societies valuable lessons about the treatment of minorities, thus also the Romani communities, in the present. While this still is the predominant political discourse about these forms of memory, the author suggests that memory culture can by contrast be described by what he refers to as non-committal memory. He argues, that when looking at Central European examples, it immediately becomes transparent that memory is only applied in abstract discussions while all immediate connections between contemporary discrimination and historical suffering are neglected. Thus, non-committal memory disconnects present and past policies, and delegitimises a comparison between the persecution of past victim groups and the criminalisation of present-day migrants. The author contends that this is visible by the fact that the majority of memorials that honour Romani victims of National Socialism (in Austria, but also across much of Europe) fail to include or contribute to an understanding of the plight of contemporary Romani people, especially Romani migrants. Arguably, this resulted from the strategies by which activists decided to copy memory politics related to Jewish victims of National Socialism as a ‘successful’ model of integration.