Supervisory Board Established for the Mauthausen Memorial Federal Institution

10.11.2016

On 1 January 2017, responsibility for the organisation and upkeep of the Mauthausen memorial complex will pass to the newly established Mauthausen Memorial Federal Institution. On 10 November 2016, the 15 members of the Board of Trustees took up their honorary role as Supervisory Board.

Supervisory Board Established for the Mauthausen Memorial Federal Institution
(photo credits: BM.I / Gerd Pachauer)

‘How Austria is viewed abroad is very dependent on how it deals with its history’, said Hermann Feiner, divisional head of the Section IV of the Ministry of the Interior, on 10 November 2016 at the official swearing-in at the Interior Ministry of members of the Mauthausen Memorial Board of Trustees. Feiner is a member of this body and was appointed its chairperson. The board will assume the role of Supervisory Board within the newly founded Mauthausen Memorial Federal Institution. While not only responsible for financial oversight of the management team, it will also have role with regard to content. For example, members of the board will be involved in the development of a ‘long term concept for the memorial site’.

‘It is our aim to position the Mauthausen Memorial within mainstream society’, said Hermann Feiner, who has been responsible for the Mauthausen memorial complex until now. It is founded on three pillars, he continued: one educational, one archival and one administrative. Where education is concerned, it has been possible to set up an outreach team of around 100 people. ‘Sadly the witnesses are dying’, said Feiner. Therefore there is a need for people who are capable of passing on the knowledge that they have handed down. The ‘Room of Names’, opened in 2013, saw the installation of a permanent exhibition that gave 83,000 people back their name. Archival research enabled the formation of networks with other memorial museums. ‘In terms of administration, we are concerned with maintaining the memorial site as a cemetery and as a place of remembrance’, emphasised Feiner.

Feiner developed this concept in collaboration with DDr. Barbara Glück, the departmental head, and Mag. Jochen Wollner. ‘It is therefore important to us that we can continue this work over the coming five years’, explained Feiner.

Memorials Act

The ‘KZ-Gedenkstätte Mauthausen/Mauthausen Memorial’ is enshrined in the Memorials Act (Gedenkstättengesetz – GStG) as a ‘federal institution under public law’. It is tasked with preserving the memory of the atrocities committed by the Nazis at the former Mauthausen concentration camp and its subcamps. The Mauthausen Memorial receives the majority of its funding from the Ministry of the Interior. The federal institution is a non-profit organisation.

‘When the Austrian federal government assumed responsibility for the site of the former concentration camp on 20 June 1947, it pledged to maintain the buildings there as a memorial’, said Dr. Franz Einzinger, divisional head of Section I (Presidium). ‘When the new structure  becomes law on 1 January 2017 under the Memorials Act (GStG), this commitment made in international law will be placed on a secure footing for the first time’. This is reflected above all in the makeup of the Board of Trustees, which consists of representatives of various ministries, private organisations and interest groups.

The governing bodies of the Mauthausen Memorial Federal Institution are the Management Team, the Board of Trustees, a Scientific Advisory Board and an International Advisory Board. The managing director will take the title of ‘Director’.

15 people will be appointed to the Board of Trustees and the trustees will be unpaid. They will serve on the board for a term of five years. The Minister of the Interior will choose a chairperson and deputy from among the members of the board. The remit of the Board of Trustees includes consulting on the appointment of the Director, approving planning proposals (budgets), and appointing the auditor of the annual accounts and the members of the advisory boards.

Four members from the Ministry of the Interior

The Ministry of the Interior will fill four of the 15 seats on the board. ‘Appointments to the board show how important the Mauthausen Memorial is to the state and its institutions’, stressed Hermann Feiner. The provincial government of Upper Austria will be represented by Viktor Sigl, president of the Upper Austrian parliament, and the Federal Chancellery by Mag. Nicole Bayer, its departmental head. The Federal Ministry for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs will be represented by Ambassador Dr. Helmut Tichy, head of the Office of International Law, and the Federal Ministry of Education by Kurt Nekula, MA, also a departmental head. The Ministry of Science, Research and Economics will appoint Mag. Elisabeth Udolf-Strobl, a departmental head, and Mag. Dr. Gerhard Baumgartner. The Federal Ministry of Finance is represented by Dr. Monika Hutter, a departmental head, the Mauthausen Komitee Österreich by its chairperson, Willi Mernyi, the Comité International de Mauthausen by its president, Prof Guy Dockendorf, the Union of Public Services by its former chairperson, Fritz Neugebauer, and the Central Committee for the Employees of the Security Administration by its chairperson, Anton Schuh.

For the first five year term, the Federal Ministry of the Interior has appointed not only Hermann Feiner but also Dr. Wilhelm Sandrisser, the head of Group B in Section I, Mag. Hermann Dikowitsch, the head of the Department for Art and Culture in the Provincial Government of Lower Austrian, and Dr. Paul Frey, commercial manager of the Association of KHM Museums.