New 'Simon Wiesenthal' award for work fighting antisemitism in Austria

Simon Wiesenthal, who dedicated his life to tracking down Nazi criminals, spent his post-war life in Austria which has now named an award in his honour


Austria is to create an award recognising work to combat antisemitism and educate about the Holocaust, named after the Austrian Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal.

The ‘Simon Wiesenthal Prize’ will have an endowment of €30,000 and honour up to three individuals or organisations every year for projects which have had an “exceptional” mark on Austrian society.

A committee of the Austrian Parliament voted in favour of a draft law on Tuesday, paving the way for its ratification next week.

The award was proposed by Wolfgang Sobotka, the President of the Austrian Parliament, who said that it would “give others course to raise their voices” against antisemitism.

Green MP Eva Blimlinger said that naming the award after Simon Wiesenthal was a “double honour,” explaining that it would honour Mr Wiesenthal as a “great, important Austrian” while also recognising those bettering society by leading the fight against antisemitism and Holocaust denial.

Oskar Deutsch, the President of the Jewish Community of Vienna, welcomed the initiative saying that it would provide an “incentive” for Austrians to follow in the footsteps of Mr Wiesenthal.

According to the draft law, the award will be made by the National Fund for the Victims of National Socialism, based on a proposal by a six-member jury that is said to include the president of the Austrian Jewish community and a descendant of Mr Wiesenthal.  

Simon Wiesenthal, dedicated his life after his liberation from Mauthausen in 1945 to tracking down fugitive Nazi criminals.

All parties in the Austrian Parliament are backing the award, with the exception of the right-wing Freedom Party.

The Freedom Party claimed that they objected to the name of the award and had proposed that it be named after long-serving post-war Social Democratic Chancellor Bruno Kreisky.

Mr Kreisky, who served as Chancellor between 1970 and 1983, had a difficult relationship with Simon Wiesenthal whom he referred to as a “Jewish fascist” after Mr Weisenthal pointed out that four cabinet appointees had Nazi pasts.

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