Austrian Service Abroad

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Austrian Service Abroad
Founded1998, Innsbruck, Tyrol, Austria by Andreas Maislinger
FocusHolocaust memorials, Anti-fascism, Humanitarian aid, Development aid, Peace movement
Area served
MethodNational service alternatives, projects, seminars

Austrian Service Abroad is a non-profit initiative founded in 1998 by Andreas Maislinger and Andreas Hörtnagl. Since 2001 Michael Prochazka is part of its managing committee.

General information[edit]

The association for Services Abroad, founded in 1998 by Andreas Hörtnagl and Andreas Maislinger was renamed in 2006 as Austrian Service Abroad. Since 2001 Michael Prochazka is also in the board of directors of the non-governmental organization. Once a month a meeting takes place in each federal state.


First young Austrian started in Auschwitz on September 1, 1992

The organization provides positions for an alternative Austrian national service all over the world and is based in Innsbruck. The regular nine month alternative national service (Zivildienst) is substituted by a 12-month service at one of its partner organisations abroad. There are great variations in the requirements. Austrian Service Abroad is an institution which provides young male Austrians with a government funded alternative to the compulsory military service. Its main focuses are social work and Holocaust Memorial Service.

Types of service[edit]

Austrian Service Abroad offers three different types of Zivildienst-substitutes:

This program was founded in 1992 and has been a part of the association Austrian Service Abroad since 1998. It deals with the victims of Nazism. Austrian Holocaust Memorial servants work for Holocaust memorials, like museums and research facilities (for example at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, the Jewish Museum Berlin, the European Roma Rights Centre in Budapest or Yad Vashem in Jerusalem)

For several years now, Austrian Holocaust Memorial servants also have been sent to assignments in former refuge countries of the victim groups persecuted by the Nazis, for example the Casa Stefan Zweig in Petrópolis (Brazil), the Centre for Jewish Studies in Shanghai, as well as the Jewish Museum of Australia in Melbourne. Since 1992 hundreds of young Austrian Holocaust Memorial servants in 22 countries have reappraised the history of the Holocaust worldwide and made an important contribution to the Austrian processing of history.

It is performed within the scope of projects that serve the economic and social development of the respective country. Social servants are active in the following areas: projects for street-children, educational projects and children's villages, care for the old and handicapped, medical care as well as care and help for homosexuals.

Further places of assignment are environmental projects and developing projects (for example: improvement of drinking water supplies) in the countries of the Third World. Andreas Daniel Matt, the first foreign servant of the year who has provided his social service in 2004 in a SOS children's village in Lahore (Pakistan) has, with the organization proLoka, founded even another place of assignment.

Since October, 1998 hundreds of Austrian Social servants were predominantly assigned to countries in Central and South America, Africa and Asia. But also organizations like royal London Society for the Blind in England and the orphanage faith in Saint Petersburg (Russia) are part of this worldwide network.

Peace servants are occupied within organizations that serve the achievement or protection of peace in connection with armed conflicts. They work, e.g., in non-state organizations in Israel where they organize workshops or common initiatives of the conflicting parties.

In Nanjing in China a peace service application place exists since 2008 in the John Rabe house which reappraises the massacre of Nanjing in 1937. This edged out event still strains the Sino-Japanese relations and was decisive in 2005 for wide protests in Beijing and other towns. The Japanese school book quarrel led in China to movements against falsification of history in Japanese school books. That's why the Austrian Peace Service donated together with the Thomas Rabe Community Center in 2009 for the first time the John Rabe Award.

International Council[edit]

The International Council is the advisory arm for the executive committee of the Austrian Service Abroad regarding all matters of the respective country.

Ernst Florian Winter, Chairman

Ernst Florian Winter, Chairman of the International Council


The US is currently the country with the largest number of places offered for Holocaust Memorial Service. Well known Holocaust Museums and Memorial Institutions like the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation in Los Angeles received several Holocaust Memorial Servants since the 1990s.

John Rabe House in Nanjing
Yad Vashem in Israel
Synagogue next to Auschwitz Jewish Center

At present, Austrian Service Abroad sends young Austrians to the following partner institutions:

The Jewish Holocaust Museum and Research Centre considers the finest memorial to all victims of racist policies to be an educational program which aims to combat anti-Semitism, racism and prejudice in the community and foster understanding between people. The Austrian Holocaust Memorial Service representatives work in different fields and areas of responsibility, undertaking translation, research, working in the library and on the museum’s database, and helping with exhibitions and events.
  • Minsk - Belarusian Children's Hospice
  • Minsk - Dietski Dom No. 6 (Children's Home No. 6)
  • Minsk - Kindergarten for Children with Special Needs
 Bosnia and Herzegovina
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.
The Austrian Holocaust Memorial Servant at the former “Kleinmann Family Foundation” which is now entitled Holocaust Education and Genocide Prevention 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
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.
  • Santiago - CTD Galvarino - Sename (planned)
The John Rabe and International Safety Zone Memorial Hall is one of the two Peace Service Partners of the Austrian Service Abroad. The Center was established to commemorate Rabe and his deep love of humanity, who saved over 600 Chinese refugees from the Japanese persecution. It is also intended to refresh people’s memories and let them learn about this chapter of Chinese history so that tragedies of this kind will never occur again. Moreover, the project is meant to promote world peace and humanitarianism everywhere, and to further develop friendly communications and cooperations among the Chinese people and other countries around the world. At the John Rabe House, the Peace Servant's main tasks are assistant and translation work, as well as self-dependent research and investigation. Furthermore, he or she aids in internal and external teamwork projects and in developing websites. Requirements for the Peace Service are good Chinese and English language skills, the ability to work self-dependent and to participate in international teamwork.
 Costa Rica
The biological station in La Gamba is an Austrian institution, which serves as a base for investigations for scientists from all over the world. Furthermore, the station started projects like the reforestation, the creation of environmental awareness and also projects to support the inhabitants. Our servants in La Gamba help to keep the station functional and collaborate in many of the named projects.
 Czech Republic
  • Prague - Federation of Jewish Communities
The Dokumentation Obersalzberg is a place of guided learning and remembrance designed by the Institut für Zeitgeschichte. At the Dokumentation Obersalzberg the Austrian Holocaust Memorial Servant works at the museum educational service. The main part of the work is the organisation of guided tours and workshops. He also gets the opportunity to create new educational material like workshops.
The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum exhibit presents the facts of the atomic bombing, with the aim of contributing to the abolition of nuclear weapons throughout the world, and to achieve the world peace. The main tasks of the Austrian Peace Servant at the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation is assistant and translation work, self-dependent research and investigation, as well as internal and external teamwork projects. Requirements for the Peace Servant are good Japanese language skills, very good English language skills and the abilities to work self-dependent and participate in international teamwork.
The main part of the Austrian Holocaust Memorial Servant at UNITED is secretarial work, which includes assisting, translating documents, doing self dependent research and investigation, as well as organising internal and external teamwork-projects. The Servant is engaged with organising conferences, administrating databases, publishing reports and preparing future projects.
 United Kingdom
 United States
The HMH was installed to promote understanding, remembrance and education about the Holocaust. The Austrian Holocaust Memorial Servants at the HMH usually work at the office, help to create new exhibitions, guiding tours through the museum and meet and work with the last survivors of the Holocaust in the United States.
The main part of the work of an Austrian Holocaust Memorial Servant at the Simon Wiesenthal Center is working as a tour guide in the Museum of Tolerance, which is the educational arm of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. These tour groups are mainly Middle School and High School students from the Los Angeles area, but also from further away. Besides from giving tours, the servant also helps out public visitors to the museum, helps with translations and interacts with Holocaust survivors as well.
The Austrian Holocaust Memorial Servant at the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust serves as tour guide, facilitates seminars and lectures by survivor docents, and works 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.
The volunteer at "USC Shoah Foundation Institute" for Visual History and Education translates all types of different documents, from contracts to letters; he also helps to translate German terms or places which often appear in interviews with Holocaust Survivors. A main task for the Holocaust Servant is indexing German testimonies and maintaining the museum's database. Further, he helps the museum organizing different events like discussions or film screenings.
At the Museum of Jewish Heritage, which tells the story of Jewish life before, during and after the Holocaust and also hosts galleries for special exhibitions, the Austrian Holocaust Memorial Servant works in the Collections & Exhibitions Department, where he is in charge of translating documents and other artifacts into English. Besides he listens to audio testimonies of Holocaust Survivors in either English or German and writes summaries, which are added to the museum's database. Further tasks include maintaining the database, guiding visitors, research and the installation of new exhibits.
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.
The Austrian Holocaust Memorial Servants help in the administration, assist in education, event planning and museum tours. Furthermore, they are responsible for translations between German and English. After having received special training they will also guide groups through the museum.

Austrian Servant Abroad of the Year[edit]

2004 Stefan Stoev, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington DC, United States

2005 Dr. Andreas Daniel Matt, SOS Children's Villages Lahore, Pakistan

2006 Martin Wallner, Center of Jewish Studies Shanghai, China

2007 Daniel James Schuster, Yad Vashem Jerusalem, Israel

2008 René J. Laglstorfer, Centre de la mémoire d'Oradour, France & Center of Jewish Studies Shanghai, China

2009 Joerg Reitmaier, Auschwitz Jewish Center, Poland & Virginia Holocaust Museum, United States

2010 Peter Loibner, GU SRZ Vera, Russia

2011 Francesco Konigsberger, Federation of Jewish Communities, Czech Republic,
Cornelius Schwärzler, Russian Research and Educational Holocaust Center, Russia & Fondazione Museo della Shoa, Italy & Dokumentation Obersalzberg, Germany,
David Witzeneder, Tropical Field Station La Gamba & Finca Salvador, Costa Rica

Austrian Holocaust Memorial Award[edit]

Reception at the Austrian Embassy in Paris (March 2008)

In 2006 Andreas Maislinger, chairman of the Austrian Service Abroad, initiated the Austrian Holocaust Memorial Award (AHMA). Winners:

2006: Prof. Pan Guang.,[3] Shanghai, PR China.

2007: Alberto Dines, Sao Paulo, Brazil

2008: Robert Hébras, Oradour-sur-Glane, France

2009: Jay M. Ipson, Richmond, Virginia, United States

2010: Eva Marks, Melbourne, Australia

2011: Auschwitz Jewish Center, Oswiecim, Poland

2012: Ladislaus Löb, United Kingdom

2013: Hugo Höllenreiner, Munich, Germany

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Austrian Holocaust Memorial Service". Austrian Information. Washington, DC: Austrian Press and Information Service. 2009.
  2. ^ "Anna Rosmus Joins International Council of Austrian Service Abroad". The Remember the Women Institute. Archived from the original on 2008-11-22.
  3. ^ Professor Pan Guang received Austrian Holocaust Memorial Award Archived 2011-01-04 at the Wayback Machine (

External links[edit]