In 2019 we celebrate the 74th anniversary of the liberation of the Mauthausen concentration camp. The International Liberation Ceremony is by far the largest memorial and liberation ceremony worldwide. Tens of thousands of people participate annually, including the last living survivors of the Mauthausen concentration camp and its satellite camps, from Austria and abroad, including numerous young people. Again this year, the Ceremony will begin with the reading of the Mauthausen Oath in various languages. The climax of the festivities is the joint departure of all participants at the end of the ceremony – similar to the very first liberation ceremony of concentration camp survivors.
In addition to the International Memorial and Liberation Ceremony in Mauthausen, many ceremonies will be held at the sites of former satellite camps of Concentration Camp Mauthausen. Most of these events are organized by local associations and initiatives in close cooperation with Mauthausen Committee Austria (MKÖ).
“In memory of the blood shed by all peoples, in memory of the millions of brothers assassinated by Nazi-Fascism, we solemnly swear to never abandon this path. We want to erect the most beautiful monument that one could dedicate to the soldiers who have fallen for the cause of freedom of the international community on a secure basis: A world of free men! We direct ourselves to the entire world, shouting: help us in this work!” (Excerpt from Mauthausen Oath)
Survivors of Mauthausen concentration camp and sub-camps were liberated by US troops at the beginning of May 1945. Since 1946 the Liberation Ceremony has been organized and conducted by survivors and their organizations. As successor organization to the Austrian Association of Mauthausen Survivors, Mauthausen Committee Austria has taken on this task. The events serve as an act of memorial for the victims of Nazi terror and persecution, as well as a rallying call against all kinds of intolerance, dictatorship, xenophobia and anti-Semitism: a moment of solidarity with victims of the past and present. Each year since 2006, the Memorial and Liberation Ceremonies have been dedicated to a specific theme related to the history of CC Mauthausen or Austria’s Nazi past. Each annual theme has a direct reference to the present as an essential aspect and aims to establish a relation today’s personal realm of experience, especially for young people.
Because over 90% of the victims were neither Germans nor Austrians, we vest international importance in the remembrance of the victims of Mauthausen concentration camp and its satellite camps. Die International Memorial and Liberation Ceremony is by far the largest memorial and liberation ceremony worldwide. Tens of thousands of people participate annually, including the last living survivors of the Mauthausen concentration camp and its satellite camps, from Austria and abroad, including numerous young people.
The Austrian Mauthausen Committee organise the events together with his partner organisation Austrian Association of Mauthausen Survivors, Comité International de Mauthausen and other organisations. In addition to the liberation ceremony in Mauthausen, each year numerous memorial ceremonies are held at locations of former satellite camps of CC Mauthausen and other locations of Nazi terror; annually over 45,000 participants attend these ceremonies. The current Event Preview for Memorial and Liberation Ceremonies 2019 is attached and also available for download at www.mkoe.at.
The distribution of memorial and cultural events throughout the region is particularly appropriate to highlight how comprehensive the concentration camp system was and to avoid a focus solely on the Mauthausen site. The history of the sub-camps is closely tied to European history – in these camps thousands of people were worked to death through forced labour in the production of armaments.