Harman Patil

Austrian Holocaust Memorial Service

Updated on
Share on FacebookTweet on TwitterShare on LinkedIn
Austrian Holocaust Memorial Service

The Austrian Holocaust Memorial Service (AHMS) is an alternative to Austria's compulsory national military service / alternative service founded in 1992. Since 1998 it is part of the Austrian Service Abroad. AHMS representatives serve at major Holocaust memorial institutions in 23 countries worldwide. The German name is Gedenkdienst (Memorial Service). The organization is interested in roots and results of the Nazism and takes care of victims of Nazism. Women can participate since 2013.



The Political Scientist from Innsbruck and Scientific Director of the Braunauer Zeitgeschichte - Tage Andreas Maislinger on the 10th of October 1980 received on the invitation from Anton Pelinka the possibility to present his “civilian service in Auschwitz” in the of Dolores Bauer’s ORF-broadcast “Kreuzverhör”. Federal President Rudolf Kirchschläger declined his concept with the statement “An Austrian has nothing to atone in Auschwitz”. Later Kirchschläger accredited the “positive achievement” of the “accomplished holocaust memorial service” of Andreas Maislinger.

1980/81 Maislinger with Joachim Schlör was volunteer in the Poland seminar paper of the German Aktion Sühnezeichen Friedensdienst, which is led by Volker von Törne and Christoph Heubner. In the Museum Auschwitz-Birkenau he supervised the German juvenile group. After his return he was even more convinced to realize a similar programme in Austria. He was mainly supported by Simon Wiesenthal, Teddy Kollek, Ari Rath, Herbert Rosenkranz, Gerhard Röthler and Karl Pfeifer. One of Röthler's sons had accomplished Holocaust Memorial Service and Karl Pfeifer puplished an interview in the IKG-Newspaper “Die GEMEINDE”.


In May 1991 Andreas Maislinger received a letter of the Minister of Interior Franz Löschnak. He was informed that the Holocaust Memorial Service was permitted by the Austrian Government to be an alternative to the civilian service. The needed funds were supported by the Federal Ministry of Interior until a defined frame.

Superior Abroad Service - Development Association 2001

2001 under Minister of Interior Ernst Strasser a Service Abroad development association was established, which left the funds to independent sponsoring organizations, fore example the Austrian Service Abroad.


"As a former Polish political prisoner of a fascist Concentration Camp and historian of World War II, I want to take the honoring opportunity to speak in front of the high house. I want to thank all the young Austrians, which work so hard for the remembrance of the past. Here I specially think of the people. lf the documentation archive of the Austrian resistance under the leadership of Prof. Wolfgang Neugebauer, the Austrian Camp Community Mauthausen, the Holocaust Memorial Service, and also the local initiatives of the communities Gusen, Langenstein und St. Georgen in Oberösterreich, the working circle for homeland, memorial and history care."

Wladyslaw Bartoszewski

"I thank you for the information about the positive result from you accomplished holocaust memorial service."

Rudolf Kirchschläger

"The holocaust memorial service is a very impressive initiative."

Thomas Klestil

"I feel very close to this organization and I have great respect for the servants, because what they achieve is the right way for Austria – to look the past directly into the eyes and to do something against it. Not to say, we were the first victims."

Walter Kohn

"I often claimed there is no Austrian association which sends young people to Israel, like the German organization “Aktion Sühnezeichen”. It touched me to read there is now, thanks to your affording the possibility to perform the Austrian civilian service within the framework of the Holocaust Memorial Service."

Teddy Kollek

"I like to support and recommend the initiative Austrian Holocaust Service. It is a real service which can be and should be provided by young people."

Christoph Kardinal Schönborn

"Many people have no idea what those young Austrians achieve for themselves, that they straight up their backbones, so they can walk straight again, also myself, who belongs to this generation."

Dietmar Schönherr

"I consider the project Holocaust Memorial Service as an important and valuable initiative in the service of peace and the peoples' communication."

Wolfgang Schüssel

"Holocaust Memorial Service is remembrance work, which is also a bridge between “Yesterday's World” and the modern and democratic Austria. It also is a reminder that also nowadays values like sense of responsibility and moral courage did not lose their importance."

Michael Spindelegger

"Each Generation has to be aware of the horror of the past, to be able to build a new world of peace and respect for the human rights. The project Holocaust Memorial Service serves this important challenge of sensitization in sense of the words “Never forget."

Franz Vranitzky

"I follow the works of the Holocaust Memorial Service in great interest and the organization has my full support."

Simon Wiesenthal

The Holocaust Memorial Service since 1992

Walter Gruggenberger (SPÖ), Andreas Hörtnagl (ÖVP) and Andreas Maislinger (independent) founded the association of the Holocaust Memorial Service in 1992. The association wanted to enhance Holocaust awareness, including its causes and consequences. The association is responsible for the assortment and care of social service volunteers before, during and after their service. The volunteers have the possibility to apply for one of the 20 partner organizations. In addition to that the role of the Austrians as offenders, victims and bystanders is very important. Also women have the possibility to provide a one-year-long holocaust memorial service as part of the European Voluntary Service (EVS). Female volunteers were sponsored for the first time in the year 2008 by the “Geschwister-Mezei-Fond”, which was created with the goal to give women the possibility to accomplish the holocaust memorial service under the same conditions as civilian servants.

Association “Never Forget” since 1994

The association provides positions on all in all 19 memorial sites in Germany and Poland. It distinguishes itself from other organizations because of the relatively uncomplicated process of the assignment and because it generally isn’t as run over as other associations. The association “Never Forget” takes an active part in youth work against forgetting and is involved in the organization of the Hermann Langbein Symposium – Ideologie und Wirklichkeit des Nationalsozialismus (Hermann Langbein Symposium – ideology and reality of National Socialism), which is taking place since more than ten years for further training of teachers.

Austrian Service Abroad since 1998

Andreas Maislinger and Andreas Hörtnagl were deselected as presidents of the Holcoaust Memorial Service. In 1998, after long debates with the board of directors of the organization, they founded the organization “Austrian Service Abroad”.

The Austrian Service Abroad is characterized due to its employees’ personal initiatives. It also holds the possibility for the volunteers to establish their own partner organization, which means a much bigger effort, but also more autonomy before their assignment. Therefore, a big network over four continents and all in all 37 countries has been established since 1998. Since 2009 this network is supported by an International Board under the presidency of Ernst Florian Winter.

The Austrian Service Abroad offers in addition to the Austrian Holocaust Memorial Service, the Austrian Social Service and the Austrian Peace Service.

Partner organizations


  • Buenos Aires – Centro de Atencion Integral a la Niñez y Adolescencia (first intern sent in 1998)
  •  Australia

  • Melbourne - Jewish Holocaust Museum and Research Centre (2007)
  • Melbourne - Jewish Museum of Australia (2007)
  •  Austria

  • Braunau am Inn - House of Responsibility
  •  Belgium

  • Brussels – La Mémoire d'Auschwitz (1999)
  •  Brazil

  • Petrópolis - Casa Stefan Zweig (2007)
  • The Casa Stefan Zweig was founded in 2006 with the objective to establish a museum dedicated to the Austrian-Jewish author Stefan Zweig and his wife in their last residence in Petrópolis. Stefan Zweig was one of the world's most popular writers in the 1920s and 1930s. With the Second World War pending and the persecution of Jews rising, he emmigrated first to London and later to Brazil where he and his wife committed suicide in 1941. The Austrian Holocaust Memorial Servant takes a key role in the organization as he welcomes and guides visitors through the museum - by now a renown cultural institution, popular among visitors from all around the world. Furthermore, the volunteer is involved in the organization of cultural events and the cooperation with local schools, universities and similar institutions.


  • Sofia - Organization of the Jews in Bulgaria "Shalom" (2004)
  •  Canada

  • Montreal - Holocaust Memorial Centre (1998)
  • The Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre was founded by a group of Holocaust survivors and opened to the public in 1979. Through its Museum, its commemorative programs and its educational initiatives, the Centre aims to alert the public to the dangers of anti-Semitism, bigotry and hate, while promoting respect for diversity and the sanctity of human life. The field of activity of an ‘Austrian Holocaust Memorial Volunteer’ at the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre is very diverse. The duties range from helping with tasks in the office, to translations (German-English) as well as to research assistance or to the description and digitization of collection artefacts. Another essential part of the work schedule is covering the museum front desk. In doing so, the volunteer interacts with Holocaust survivors, students, teachers and visitors to coordinate tours and to ensure a proper daily routine. Furthermore, the volunteer is involved in several projects and events including “Witness to History”, “A Bar &Bat Mitzvah to Remember”, “Kristallnacht Commemoration”, and others.
  • Montreal - Kleinmann Family Foundation Montreal (2002)
  • The Austrian Holocaust Memorial Servant at the “Kleinmann Family Foundation” digitalizes and archives artifacts, documents and photographs as well as maintains and improves the database and the website. The volunteer gives presentations in high schools and colleges about the Holocaust and Moral Responsibility. The servant also interviews Holocaust survivors for "Oral History"-projects.
  • Toronto - Sarah and Chaim Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre / Hillel Canada (2010)
  • This internship is a joint partnership between Jewish Federation of Canada-United Israel Appeal of Canada's University campus Hillel Canada and United Jewish Appeal Federation of Greater Toronto's Sarah and Chaim Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre. The intern's primary responsibilities will be to complete projects that have been assigned by the two agencies. The intern will be supporting students in developing new education programs in terms of the Holocaust with the center and on university campuses. Other tasks are: support for the organization of the education trip to Vienna for Canadian, Jewish students, outreach to, and maintaining connection with local schools in terms of Holocaust education related activities.


  • Harbin - Harbin Jewish Research Center (planned)
  • Shanghai - Center of Jewish Studies (2005)
  • Nanjing - John Rabe and International Safety Zone Memorial Hall (2008)
  •  Croatia

  • Jasenovac - Jasenovac concentration camp (planned)
  •  Czech Republic

  • Prague - Jewish Community of Prague (1998)
  •  France

  • Oradour - Centre de la Mémoire d'Oradour (2002)
  • Paris - Amicale de Mauthausen (2008)
  • The Amicale de Mauthausen is a French organisation in memory of the history of the Mauthausen concentration camp and its many subcamps. Founded in October 1945 by survivors of these camps, the Amicale de Mauthausen is present at the annual liberation ceremonies at the sites in Austria and organizes excursions for French high school students and its members. The volunteers tasks at the Amicale include French-German translations and helping with the organization of excursions, as well as the digitalization of the Amicale's archives.
  • Paris - La Fondation pour la Mémoire de la Déportation (1999)
  • Strasbourg - Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe (2011)
  • The tasks of the Holocaust Memorial Servant include helping to organize activities of the new installed „European Alliance of Cities and Regions for Roma Inclusion“. Due to the middle- to long term aim of the alliance, the memorial servant will support the alliance in creating a list of cities and regions which are interested in future cooperation. Moreover the servant will take part in field studies as well as meetings with Roma organizations. Furthermore the holocaust memorial servant helps the congress in its work in the field of human rights and democracy on a local and regional basis as well as in the coordination of the congress and of the Special Representative of the Secretary General for Roma Issues.


  • Berlin - Jewish Museum Berlin (1999)
  • Moringen - Concentration Camp Memorial at Torhaus Moringen (1999)
  • Munich - Jewish Museum Munich (2008)
  •  Great Britain

  • London - Institute of Contemporary History and Wiener Library (1998)
  • London - The National Yad Vashem Charitable Trust (1999)
  • London - Holocaust Survivors’ Centre (2015)
  • The Austrian Service Abroad cooperates with the Holocaust Survivors' Centre to send out the memorial servants from Austria to London. The foreigner takes on a number of different tasks such as booking speakers for lectures, organizing trips or helping them with the new technology. The main task is to offer the survivors a long time of attention.


  • Budapest - European Roma Rights Centre (2002)
  •  Israel

  • Jerusalem - St. Vinzenz-Ein Karem (2001)
  • Jerusalem - Yad Vashem (2001)
  • Kibbutz Lohamei HaGeta'ot - Ghetto Fighters' House (2008)
  •  Italy

  • Milan - Centro di Documentazione Ebraica Contemporanea (1999)
  • The main task of the memorial servant is to translate and correct German articles. He is also responsible for cataloging materials and organizing events at the Centre. To take care of visitors is another task for the memorial servant.
  • Prato - Museo della Deportazione (2008)
  • The main part of the interns work is giving guided tours through the museum (normally for groups of students between the age of 14 and 19) and giving them an overview of the system of concentration camps and the Shoah. It is also the responsibility of the intern to work in the library of the documentation centre and to cataloguize new books added to the library. On a regular basis there are speeches and discussions in the documentation centre where the help of the intern is required. The intern has to help organise (and participate in) any trip of the museum. For instance every two years to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum in Poland and every year to the former concentration camp of Mauthausen-Gusen in Austria (always with Italian students).
  • Rome - Fondazione Museo della Shoah (2012)
  •  Latvia

  • Riga (planned)
  •  Lithuania

  • Vilnius – Jewish Museum
  •  Macedonia

  • Skopje (planned)
  •  Netherlands

  • Amsterdam - United (2002) (2010)
  •  Norway

  • Oslo - Jewish Community (2000)
  • Oslo - Norwegian Center for Studies of Holocaust and Religious Minorities (2014)
  •  Poland

  • Oświęcim - Auschwitz Jewish Center (2004)
  • The Volunteers main duty at the AJCF in Oświęcim is to give guided tours through the Museum, the Synagogue, the town and the Jewish cemetery. Tours are held in German and English. Furthermore, the Volunteer helps in the museum's Café. Additionally, holocaust remembrance servants help with translations from German to English and vice versa.
  • Oświęcim - International Youth Meeting Center in Oświęcim/Auschwitz (1997)
  • Kraków - Judaica Foundation - Center For Jewish Culture (1999)
  • Kraków - Galicia Jewish Museum (2010)
  • Kraków - Polish Humanitarian Organisation (2004)
  • Warsaw - Jewish Museum Warsaw (2008)
  •  Russia

  • Moscow - Russian Research and Educational Holocaust Center (2000)
  •  Slovenia

  • Ljubljana - National Museum of Contemporary History (2010)
  •  Sweden

  • Uppsala - Uppsala Programme for Holocaust and Genocide Studies (2008)
  • Stockholm - Forum för levande historia (2009)
  •  Turkey

  • Istanbul - Jewish Museum Istanbul (2012)
  •  United States

  • Chicago - Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center (2010)
  • The main work scope of the intern is focused on the organisation of field trips. Field Trips are the main part of the education program of the museum. The intern helps to bring the students in the museum and guiding them to their docents. Moreover he is responsible for the Audio Guide system which assures a non-disruptive communication between the school group and the docent. Further tasks are work with survivors, translation of documents and assisting at events.
  • Detroit - Holocaust Memorial Center (1999)
  • Houston - Holocaust Museum Houston (1999)
  • Los Angeles - Simon Wiesenthal Center (1998)
  • Los Angeles - Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust (2007)
  • The Austrian Holocaust Memorial Servant at the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust serves as tour guide, facilitates seminars and lectures by survivor docents an work with teachers to schedule and coordinate tours. The volunteer interacts with Holocaust survivors, students, teachers and visitors to the Museum on a daily basis. The servant also works with primary documents and artifacts, which he translates, reviews and interprets.
  • Los Angeles - USC Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education (1999)
  • New Orleans - National World War II Museum (planned)
  • New York - Museum of Jewish Heritage (2000)
  • New York - Anti Defamation League (2008)
  • New York - American Jewish Committee (2009)
  • For more than a century, AJC has been the leading global Jewish advocacy organization. With offices across the United States and around the globe, and partnerships with Jewish communities worldwide, AJC works to enhance the well-being of the Jewish people and to advance human rights and democratic values for all. The Austrian Holocaust Memorial Service is part of ACCESS, AJC’s young leadership division. Besides organizing ACCESS National trips to countries around the world, the servant also coordinates the work of different chapters of ACCESS throughout the United States, and supervises their programming. Furthermore, the servant often assists in numerous other ACCESS-related projects (e.g. diplomatic outreach).
  • Reno - Center for Holocaust, Genocide & Peace Studies (1999)
  • Richmond - Virginia Holocaust Museum (1999)
  • The Virginia Holocaust Museum features 28 exhibitions including “The Ipson Saga,” which documents the story of Museum Director and Founder, Jay M. Ipson and his family from pre-war Lithuania, through their escape to liberation. The Nuremberg Trials Courtroom exhibition is the only existing replica of the famous courtroom that set the standard for modern international law. The tasks for the Austrian Holocaust Memorial Servant are manifold. Duties at the Virginia Holocaust Museum range from giving tours through the permanent exhibit to translations (German-English) to assisting in research or helping at the reception desk among other things.
  • San Francisco - Holocaust Center of Northern California (1999)
  • St. Petersburg - The Florida Holocaust Museum (1999)
  • The FHM was founded by Walter Loebenberg and his wife Edith in the year of 1992. Today the museum is located in the heart of the city Saint Petersburg. The respective tasks vary from intern to intern depending on the interests of the Austrian Holocaust Memorial Servant. The primary work is for the Education department. The intern is trained to be a docent to the give tours and helps creating the so-called "teaching trunks" that the museum ships out for free to all schools in the contiguous United States. Other projects include the translation of old German documents and the filming of Holocaust survivors that talk at the museum with school groups regularly.

    Austrian Holocaust Memorial Award

    Andreas Maislinger also initiated the Austrian Holocaust Memorial Award (AHMA), rewarding people who actively contribute to the remembrance of the Holocaust. On October 17, 2006 the Chinese historian Pan Guang was awarded the first AHMA prize. Further recipients were the Brazilian journalist Alberto Dines, French Robert Hébras, who was one of only six people, who survived the Massacre of Oradour and Lithuanian-American Holocaust survivor and co-founder of the Virginia Holocaust Museum Jay M. Ipson. In October 2010 Eva Marks was honored with the AHMA by Austrian Ambassador Hannes Porias in Melbourne.


    In 2005 the founder of the Austrian Holocaust Memorial Service Andreas Maislinger received the Decoration for Services to the Republic of Austria in Silver from the president of Austria, Heinz Fischer, and the Medal of Merit of the state of Tirol from Herwig van Staa and Luis Durnwalder.

    On November 8, 2009 Maislinger was awarded with a Lifetime Achievement Award for "his 10 year fight to obtain official recognition of alternative, philanthropic service" at the Annual Dinner of the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust together with Holocaust survivor and producer of Schindlers List Branko Lustig.


    Austrian Holocaust Memorial Service Wikipedia

    Similar Topics
    The Bohemian Soul
    Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah
    Marcel Cas