The Austrian Government is planning to send migrants and asylum seekers – many of whom are already fleeing conflict – to a Nazi concentration camp to learn about the horrors of World War II.
The plan was launched by State Secretary of the Ministry of the Interior Karoline Edtstadler, who is a member of the conservative Austrian People’s Party (OVP) led by Chancellor Sebastian Kurz.
Edtstadler was reportedly reacting to a recent ‘Holocaust Knowledge and Awareness’ study published earlier this week which showed that 56 percent of Austrians were unaware that six million Jews were murdered during World War II.
Meanwhile, 13 percent even said that the number of murdered Jews was “widely exaggerated” while 21 percent did not even known that Adolf Hitler was a fellow Austrian.
Edtstadler said it is time to reacquaint Austrians with their recent dark history and period when Adolf Hitler, born in Braunau am Inn in the state of Upper Austria, annexed the country into Nazi Germany with wide support from the local population.
She launched an initiative to force pupils and migrants alike to visit the country’s Mauthausen Concentration Camp, of which 42 percent of Austrians involved in the study were completely unaware off.
Edtstadler said: “It shocks me deeply that many young Austrians know far too little about Mauthausen.
“Therefore, it is my goal that all schoolchildren, and also migrants and asylum seekers new to Austria, should visit the Mauthausen Memorial at least once.
“Only then can we educate people about these terrible events.”
In cooperation with the Ministry of Education, Edtstadler said that she has already sent brochures to all Austrian schools with information on the project.
She added: “I will vigorously pursue this topic. Being responsible for the Mauthausen Memorial, it is very important to me that all people in Austria know more about this area.”
Mauthausen was one of the first concentration camps built by the Nazis and the last one to be liberated by the Allied forces.
Between 125,000 and 320,000 people are thought to have been killed in the camp.