|University of Nevada (Reno) 18th May, 2000|
Austrian interns at University of Nevada promote Holocaust awareness in schools
Genocide, say young Austrians Heinz Boesch and Andreas Feuerstein, can start with a just a joke. A bad joke that degrades people. Little by little, intolerance grows, discriminatory laws are passed, and, ultimately, the hatred explodes in horrendous tragedies such as the Holocaust.
Boesch and Feuerstein are interns at the University of Nevada, Reno’s Center for Holocaust, Genocide & Peace Studies. They are Gedenkdienst (Geh-DENK-deenst), or “commemorative service” interns, in a novel program of the Austrian government that allows young men to serve 14 months at major Holocaust awareness centers in lieu of spending eight months in compulsory military service.
“They are idealists,” says Viktoria Hertling, director of the center, noting that in addition to spending an extra six months in 40-hour-per-week service, Feuerstein and Boesch must pay all their own expenses, including airfare, and receive only a small stipend from the Austrian government.
Part of their work involves making presentations at high schools across the state this spring.
Neither Boesch, 26, nor Feuerstein, 22, are Jewish, but believe that because Austria, a part of Germany during World War II, was as responsible for the Holocaust as Germany, they have a special mission to ensure the seeds of genocide are not nurtured anew.
“Because our parents and grandparents lived through such a terrible thing, they experienced it, I think that we should tell people what happened,” Boesch says. Adolf Hitler, he notes, was Austrian.
The interns have taught some 1,200 Nevada students. “Being barely older than the students they are teaching, their message is all the more powerful,” Hertling says. “I never thought the endeavor would be as far-reaching and widespread as it has become.” Among locations worldwide, Gedenkdienst interns work at the Simon Wiesenthal Center and at Steven Spielberg’s Shoah Foundation in Los Angeles.
Pictured: (left to right) Austrian Gedenkdienst interns at the Center for Holocaust, Genocide & Peace Studies Andreas Feuerstein and Heinz Boesch talk to students at Earl Wooster High School about Austria’s participation in the Holocaust.
- Date 2. July 2016
- Tags Pressearchiv 2000