How many dead drops have been forgotten

How much does memory weigh?

The "Russian Monument" is rightly located in the center of Vienna and commemorates the fallen Soviet soldiers. Why it will continue to exist, regardless of whispers of any kind.

Among the numerous publications related to Russia in the past few weeks, one that struck me as particularly unpleasant was one related to Vienna. Based on the article by Wolfgang Freitag in the “Presse”, readers might believe that the memorial for the fallen Soviet soldiers on Schwarzenbergplatz has already been forgotten or will inevitably be forgotten as something disturbing the memory and not fitting into the modern image of the capital .

Exactly one week later, the author made a kind of corrective supplement with the consideration of how appearance often triumphs over being. And although the conclusion about the indisputable justification for the existence of the “Russian monument” in the center of Vienna gives hope, it did not completely dispel my concerns below.

Guest comments and contributions from external authors do not have to correspond to the opinion of the editors.

In the past anniversary year 2020, one big date was remembered: 75 years of the end of the war. In Austria there was an extensive program of various commemorative events, which testifies to a high level of remembrance culture in the republic.

Active culture of remembrance in Austria

Such a culture of remembrance is exactly what I learned to appreciate about Austrians during my service stay in Vienna. And this currently applies not only to the high political level. In the course of time, broad sections of the population developed a much deeper understanding of the hard lessons of history - that of the Second World War - compared to earlier times. An understanding of how to deal responsibly and cautiously with even your darkest sides. Because, as Federal President Alexander Van der Bellen rightly emphasized: "Without remembering the terrible past there is no humane present".

Time can of course heal many wounds. The medicines used are very important. The recovery process must not be mixed with a (even masterfully served) memory loss, otherwise it becomes really dangerous for any society, otherwise it locks itself in a mercilessly swirling vicious circle.

I basically agree with the author on one point: Terms such as culture of remembrance may not be measured in bronze barrels and meters. There are other "units of measurement" for this, such as almost 27 million Soviet citizens who paid with their lives for the victory over Nazism, or more than 70,000 destroyed cities and burned down villages in the Soviet Union, or millions in the gas chambers of Mauthausen, Auschwitz and other people who perished in concentration camps. It is precisely these terrible "units of measurement" that must be decisive for all of us.

Austria has taken an arduous and thorny road to the conscious confession of participation in the most cruel crimes in human history. This is one of the reasons why the “Russian Monument” is absolutely justified in the city center of Vienna. This will continue to exist, regardless of whispers of any kind to the Austrian people to “forget”, “let them disappear from consciousness” or “cover up”. Because today's culture of remembrance among Austrians evokes deep respect - and I am sure that it will stay that way.

Dmitry Lyubinsky(* 1967) has been the Russian Federation's Ambassador to Austria since August 2015.

Emails: [email protected]