Tour "Festival of Joy"

Before the Festival of Joy on 8 May 2023, Mauthausen Committee Austria (MKÖ) once again offered an educational service programme, about the day of liberation and the history of Vienna Heldenplatz.

The offer took place in the form of a guided tour, taking 2 hours, in the time between 25 April and 8 May 2023. The tour could be booked free of charge by everyone, but was specially dedicated to a young audience. The focus of this educational service offer was aimed at students of polytechnic secondary schools, vocational schools, at apprentices, at young people in out-of-school institutions, at young workers, and at trainees.

Content of the tour

The guided tour "Festival of Joy" is about the history of 8 May, the story of and liberation from National Socialism, the history of Heldenplatz, the monuments at and around Heldenplatz, and the history of the Festival of Joy.

Heldenplatz is a place of remembrance to the Republic of Austria that serves as a reminder of the events of 15 March 1938, the date of the Nazis coming into power in Austria, and of the consequences this had for Austria’s population. On the other hand, Austria’s dealing with the Nazi era after the reinstallation of the republic in April/Mai 1945 is reflected here, as well as the long process of recognising Austria’s role as an accomplice.

8 May 1945 is the day of the unconditional surrender of the German Wehrmacht, and the day of the official end of World War II in Europe. Austria came to terms with its Nazi past quite late, which, together with the establishment of a collective remembrance culture where Austria is depicted as the first victim, has fostered a reinterpretation of 8 May and with it of Vienna’s Heldenplatz by right-wing extremist fraternities of the Wiener Korporationsring. First efforts to keep 8 May from becoming a day where the German Wehrmacht’s defeat is mourned have happened as early as 2002, led by large number of civil society organisations. Since 2013, Mauthausen Committee Austria has been organising the Festival of Joy at Vienna Heldenplatz with a free concert by the Vienna Symphony Orchestra.

The guided tour offered interactive knowledge transfer and covered the following topics:

  • Monuments, significance, and symbolism of Heldenplatz
  • Significance of 8 May for Austria and Europe as the day of liberation from fascism and the terrible atrocities committed by the Nazis
  • History of the Festival of Joy
  • Survivors and contemporary witnesses at the Festival of Joy

Fact box

Tour "Festival of Joy"
Date: 24 April to 8 May 2023
Duration: 2 hours
Number of participants: max. 25
Meeting point: Äußeres Burgtor, left firebowl, Heldenplatz, 1010 Vienna

From Monday to Friday the tour could only be booked for groups. On weekends, individuals could take part in the tours. Registration was only required for groups.