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Welcome to the Vienna Project newsletter!
Welcome to The Vienna Project newsletter

If you are receiving this newsletter for the first time, you may want to visit the project web site www.theviennaproject.org to first gain an overview of the project.
 



I have postponed publishing The Vienna Project newsletter, waiting for the moment when a cease-fire would hold between Israelis and Palestinians, when fighting in the Ukraine would diminish, when EU citizens would condemn the anti-Semitic speech erupting on the streets of France and Germany, and when diplomatic negotiations would be seen by all groups as the most promising vehicle to achieve a lasting peace. Adding another layer of sadness to losses already mounting, on August 2nd I learned that Mag. Barbara Prammer, President of the National Council of the Republic of Austria had died.
 
Leaders who stand strong for justice, memory, and equality, particularly in regard to women’s rights and minority groups, are few and far between. Mag. Barbara Prammer was that kind of leader. Her steadfast commitment to preserving memory as the cornerstone of a strong democracy was unusual. Barbara Prammer supported The Vienna Project and became a “Patron of the Event.” It is with her endorsement in mind, that I bring The Vienna Project to a dignified closing. 

Letters

In thinking about how The Vienna Project began, I return to the experience of inheriting my grandparents’ letters in 2004. Not speaking German, the letters remained in a plastic bag for months, while I researched finding a translator who could read my grandfather’s Sütterlin and organized the letters for translation. In 2006, a cloud was lifted when I was finally able to imagine the sound and pitch of my grandmother and grandfather’s voices. These feelings guide the process of creating a closing ceremony, which brings together the “Sidewalk Memorial” and the “Naming Memorial.” The project’s “Memory Map,” made from letters written by victims and survivors will be on view at the Austrian National Library, helping to bridge the movement from the “Sidewalk Memorial” to the “Naming Memorial.” Family members will be invited to read family letters written by persecuted Austrian victims and survivors of National Socialism. This newsletter will focus on efforts to collect “Archival Letters,” written between 1938-1945.

 


Letters collected will represent multiple victim groups, including: Jews, Roma and
Sinti, mentally ill and physically and mentally disabled, homosexuals, dissidents, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Carinthian Slovenian resisters. Letters will reflect a variety of circumstances: deportation, execution, hiding, imprisonment, emigration and arrest or instances of theft, humiliation, exclusion, assault, deportation, escape, rescue, and survival. You can help us.


Outreach for Archival Letters



I have been working closely with two Hadassah-Brandeis Institute interns at Brandeis University. Katherine Bleth and Tamar Segev have focused their work on soliciting archival letters for this aspect of the project. Tamar sent our “Call for Archival Letters” flier to over 353 organizations and individuals in sixteen countries and 12 US states! People have posted our flier on Facebook pages, on twitters, and in their newsletters.  Please download the flier in Deutsch or English and share it with anyone who may want to send us letters. Please include answers to the questionnaire: http://form.jotform.us/form/41144022369144




Katherine, who is fluent in German as a second language, also agreed to translate a number of additional documents. Thanks to Katherine and Tamar, the fliers are being sent to a number of countries in three languages: Deutsch, English and Spanish! 




Katherine has also been in direct correspondence with twenty German-speaking organizations and seventy additional organizations and individuals for teacher outreach. Katherine’s experience of working on this international project prompted the following remarks: 

It has been beyond amazing to bring my German language skills to this project, and it has shown me the power language holds. Dr. Karen Frostig has a past in Austria with her Austrian grandparents, and this history is mostly written, recorded and preserved in German. Karen speaks minimal German, however, this does not speak to an absence of Austrian history, but rather its immense presence… Annihilation of language is an immense loss. My ability to use my German has shown me the importance of communicating in languages beyond standard English, and thus how much is lost when those languages are not learned.

Reading Marathon: 17.October

Working in partnership with high schools all over the city of Vienna, students will be invited to read letters from persecuted Austrian victims of National Socialism at one of the 38 designated memory sites. An educator, in charge of organizing this portion of our program, will provide letters to different classroom teachers. The “marathon reading” will take place on 17.October, from 9:00-10:00, infiltrating the city streets for a single hour with the voices of hundreds of victims of National Socialism. Please download the flier in Deutsch or English and share it with teachers who may want to participate.



Closing Ceremony: 18.October

At the Austrian National Library, we will invite three family members to read a letter from a relative, who suffered as a victim or as a survivor of National Socialism. The program of reading letters (see briefe lesen) will continue at Josefsplatz in proximity to the “Naming Memorial.” Two designated readers and guests will congregate in small seated groups lit by lanterns, to listen to letters written by murdered victims, whose names are projected onto the surrounding walls.

Outdoor Seminars
 
Our next newsletter will bring you more news about our closing program.  If you are planning a trip to Vienna you may also want to contact Dr. Jerome Segal to book a spot in an “Outdoor Seminar” walking excursion to the memory sites in Vienna.
 


The Vienna Project Survey  

I will be sending results from a survey about The Vienna Project to foundations that have supported our work.  This will be helpful in funding a post-project installation and international traveling exhibition. Click here to fill out the survey. Your participation is appreciated!

Best wishes for an August filled with the promise of peace,
 
Karen

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