Festival of Joy 2020
Day of liberation
May 8, 1945, is the day of unconditional surrender of the German Wehrmacht and the official end of the Second World War in Europa.
On the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the liberation from the Nazi reign of terror, Mauthausen Committee Austria (MKÖ) will host the Festival of Joy for the eighth time on 8 May 2020 at 7:30 pm at Vienna's Heldenplatz. The Vienna Symphony Orchestra will again perform a free open-air concert with German conductor Alexander Liebreich and Russian soprano Julia Lezhneva. However, May 8 will not only celebrate the liberation from National Socialist rule; the millions who were persecuted and murdered by the Nazis will also be remembered. The victims and the resistance will be commemorated on this day at Vienna's highly symbolic Heldenplatz, and the liberators will be celebrated. In 2020, the Festival of Joy is dedicated to the thematic focus "Humanity without borders".
The Festival of Joy takes place in close cooperation with the Vienna Symphony Orchestra and with the support of the Jewish Community, the association Gedenkdienst (in service of remembrance) and the Documentation Archive of the Austrian Resistance.
The highlight of the festivities will be the speech by contamporary-witness Erika Kosnar. Erika Kosnar comes from a Viennese working class family of Jewish faith. Her mother converted to Judaism in 1931. From 1938 on, Erika suffered insults, harassment and atrocities. Thanks in part to her mother's civil courage, she survived the Nazi terror in Vienna. To this day she continues to campaign for "Never Again".
The celebration will begin with the welcome address by MKÖ chairman Willi Mernyi and the words of Federal President Dr. Alexander Van der Bellen.
The Vienna Symphony Orchestra will again perform a free open-air concert in 2020 under the direction of the German conductor Alexander Liebreich. Alexander Liebreich himself lost relatives to the murder machinery of the National Socialists. In 2020, the music performance of the Vienna Symphony Orchestra will again be closely linked to the overall theme of the celebrations. The moderator will be actress Katharina Stemberger.
The Festival of Joy will open with videos about the Festival and its thematic focus "Humanity without borders" with statements by ambassadors of the liberating nations, the Jewish Community, the association Gedenkdienst (in service of remembrance), and the Documentation Archive of Austrian Resistance.
This year again, the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation will broadcast the Festival of Joy live from Vienna's Heldenplatz. This will be the highlight of extensive thematic emphasis on the history of the Mauthausen Concentration Camp and its satellite camps.
In the past 7 years, more than 68,000 visitors at the Festival of Joy have sent a strong signal for the establishment of a worthy commemoration on May 8 as Liberation Day.