The Denk.Mal-Project

The Denk.Mal Project. 5 May 08

On 5 May 2008, Austria’s National Commemoration Day Against Violence and Racism in Remembrance of Victims of National Socialism, students from all over Austria will be constructing an elaborate and moving Holocaust memorial on Vienna’s Heldenplatz. The Denk.Mal.

This memorial will be dedicated to the more than 80,000 Austrians – Jews, political and religious dissidents, homosexuals, people with disabilities, Roma (gypsies), and other groups and individuals singled out by the Nazis for persecution and extermination – who were murdered in the Holocaust.

This memorial will be constructed out of the students’ written compositions, pictures, paintings, photographs, t-shirts, posters, banners and other forms of artistic expression they have created in memory of those who were murdered in the Holocaust and in order to demonstrate their dedication to civil courage and their commitment to stand up against racism and xenophobia.

Students from all over Austria who are taking part in the Invitation Project or who want to take part in this memorial will dedicate their artwork to an individual Holocaust victim. 

They will be able to choose a person who shared their name, went to their school, or lived in their neighborhood by learning about this person from the database of Austrian Holocaust victims.

The students will produce artistic works relating to the themes of racism, discrimination, intolerance, xenophobia, persecution and inhumanity in the memory of those who were murdered in the Holocaust.

During this process, the students will be able to develop an understanding of the meaning of these terms for themselves.  They will reflect on how and where they are confronted with these issues and develop new skills for conflict-resolution and new approaches to stand up for their moral beliefs and new confidence to speak out against instances of racism and discrimination in their daily lives.
We highly recommend that the students and teachers use the resources offered by ZARA, an organization dedicated to anti-racism work.

The students’ memorial works will be exhibited on 5 May 2008 when they will come together with the Survivors from the Invitation Project to form a unique and meaningful Holocaust memorial for Austria.

Every piece of artwork the students produce will be dedicated to one of the more than 80,000 Austrian Holocaust victims whose name and biographical data will be documented in the work.  The resulting memorial will be a visual representation of the otherwise unimaginable number of Austrian victims who were murdered during the Holocaust.  It will also visibly demonstrate how many young people in Austria are committed to facing the past in its entirety and show that they find this task important both now and for the future.

On 5 May 2008 a commemorative ceremony will be held by and for the students and Survivors.  During this ceremony there will be speeches by students and Survivors, and young artists from Austria will perform their interpretations of music once forbidden by the Nazis and stage other acts of remembrance.  Travel to and from this event from anywhere in Austria will be free for all participants.  This has been made possible through the support of the ÖBB (The Austrian Federal Railway) and the Viennese Transport Services.

How the students will prepare:

Between now and the 5th of May, the students will be working with their teachers and classmates to produce their memorial works.  On the 5th of May they will come together with the Survivors to install these works of art on Heldenplatz.  While this memorial will only be temporary, each piece of artwork will have also been photographed or scanned in order to create a permanent digital memorial online.  The students will be working mostly with their teachers through this process, but the project team (in particular each school’s personal advisor) will always be available for support.