Festival of Joy 2018
Day of Liberation
In memory of the victims of and to commemorate the 73rd anniversary of Austria’s liberation from the Nazi terror regime, on 8 May 2018 at 20:00 Mauthausen Committee Austria (MKÖ) – in cooperation with the Vienna Symphony Orchestra – will host the sixth Festival of Joy at Vienna’s Heldenplatz.
In memorial year 2018, the Festival of Joy is dedicated to the day of liberation as well as to the year 1938. With the Nazi seizure of power and the Anschluss (annexation) of Austria, the Nazis aggressively pursued political opponents, unionists, members of Christian churches and other religions, other ethnic groups, homosexuals, intellectuals, artist, and sooner or later anyone who rejected their regime. Already in April 1938 the first regime opponents were transported from Vienna to the concentration camp Dachau. In August 1938 the first prisoners arrived at Mauthausen and began to construct the concentration camp there; December 1938 already saw nearly 1000 prisoners there.
The Vienna Symphony Orchestra, led by Lahav Shani, their first guest director, will again play a free open-air concert to send a musical message. For this occasion, Israeli-born Shani has assembled a special program with decidedly Jewish coloration. Hence the concert will focus on works by Ernest Bloch and Leonard Bernstein. The multiple award-winning violinist Julian Rachlin, who descends from a Vilna family of musicians of Jewish faith, will perform as soloist in sections from Pjotr Iljitsch Tchaikovsky’s violin concert. The concert will open with the Kurt Schwertsik composition “Here and now!”, written especially for the Festival of Joy. The concert will conclude as last year with the “Ode to Joy” from Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. Katharina Stemberger will moderate the event.
Statements will be devoted to the fates of people who fled the Nazi death machinery. Statements by ambassadors of the liberating nations, the Jewish Community, the organisation Verein Gedenkdienst (memorial service) and the Documentation Archive of Austrian Resistance will be presented on 8 May. The event will open with video messages by eyewitnesses Elsie Slonim and Gertrud Weinber. Then the Festival will continue with the words of National Council President Mag. Wolfgang Sobotka and greetings by MKÖ-Chairman Willi Mernyi. The highlight of the festival ceremony will be a speech by Rudi Gelbard, a concentration camp survivor.
The Festival of Joy will take place at Vienna’s Heldenplatz regardless of weather. A limited amount of seating is available for older people and persons with special needs.
Again this year the program Culture & Information on Austrian TV’s ORF III will broadcast the Festival of Joy live from Vienna’s Heldenplatz. The TV broadcast is the climax of an extensive focus on the history of Concentration Camp Mauthausen and its satellite camps.
In the past five years, more than 51,000 visitors at the Festival of Joy have sent a strong message for the establishment of a dignified remembrance on May 8 as the Day of Liberation.
We look forward to your attendance!