War memorials and evidence of Europe’s wartime past are a large part of river cruise holiday itineraries and this latest addition is sure to become a part of tours and visits to Vienna.
After Germany annexed Austria in 1938, the country became a part of Hitler’s Third Reich, which went on to cause destruction and take the lives of millions of Jews. Thousands of deserters and opponents of the war effort were executed as a part of the Nazi justice system, and this memorial is for them.
It was only in 2009 that Austrian parliament voted to clear the reputations of those who met contempt and abuse for refusing to partake in Hitler’s plans. One of the surviving deserters, Richard Wadani, aged 92, said in this article, “If they were the good ones in Hitler's army, then we deserters were of course the evil ones, the bad ones that you could take action against.”
The Austrian President Heinz Fischer spoke out against such treatment saying, “This is something for which one has to apologize and be ashamed,” and that it is unthinkable that people should be treated such a way in a democratic post-war Austria.
The monument has been designed by German artist Olaf Nicolai and takes the form of an ‘X’ over three-levels. This is said to symbolise the plight of the individual pitted against the power of society.
The monument now stands in central Vienna in the Ballhausplatz, near to that of the presidency and chancellery.
To see the monument for yourself and other war attractions in Europe, as noted in this previous article, be sure to book onto 2015 Danube river cruises soon before they’re sold out.
Image Credit: Scott Calleja (flickr.com)
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