DÖW’s new designed permanent exhibition was funded by the City of Vienna as a lasting contribution to the 2005 memorial year and was opened on 8 November 2005.
The exhibition, which compared to the previously available space was enlarged by one room to approximately 200 m2, traces history from the First Republic and the years preceding the »Anschluss« all the way to the present. This comprehensive concept precludes an accurate title for the exhibition, which has been frequently inquired after. Any possible concise designation is not broad enough and leaves out critical aspects. The difficulty content development presented, was to display the historical topics, in themselves multifaceted, as succinct as possible without at the same time compromise on lucidity or else leave out essential aspects. The exhibition texts, therefore, can only offer an overview of the topics dealt with. They reflect, on one hand, significant focal points of research by the DOEW-staff. On the other hand, they provide an overview of the state of research in contemporary history on NS-crimes, persecution, and resistance on Austrian territory from 1938 to 1945. Austrian NS-perpetrators and the participation among the population are mentioned as are the Austrian Republic’s frequently dubious handling of the processing of the NS-past after 1945 regarding denazification and legal prosecution of NS-crimes as well as restitution and compensation for NS-victims. Even though the exhibition approaches the subjects in a rather matter-of-fact manner, the exhibition designers feel deeply indebted to the memory of the victims of persecution as well as to the reverence for the achievements of the women and men of the resistance.
The available space, despite its extension still too narrow for such a comprehensive exhibition, also presented a challenge to the architects Falkeis & Falkeis-Senn. They succeeded in harmoniously fitting a very modern architectural design into the Old Town Hall, a structure largely from the Middle-Ages. It goes without saying that the entire exhibition is handicapped accessible as well.
Finally a short note on the use of the term »Austria« in the exhibition and in the catalogue. Throughout, it is to be understood as a short form of the definition »on the territory of today’s Austria.« With the »Ostmark Administration Act« of 14 April 1939, the up to this point still existing regional governments were dissolved and seven »Donau- and Alpenreichsgaue« created. In the course of the war they were bestowed with additional areas outside of today’s Austria.
On the Exhibition
The Rise of the NSDAP and its Road to Power
The Annexation of Austria (»Der Anschluss«)
Persecution of the Austrian Jews
Deportations of the Austrian Jews
The Carinthian Slovenes
Roma and Sinti – »Gypsies« in the Nazi Era
The Persecution of Homosexual Men and Women
On the Role of Medicine in National Socialism
Mauthausen Concentration Camp
Austria and the Victims of National Socialism
The Culture of Remembrance
Denazification and the Punishment of Nazi Crimes in Austria
We thank Herbert Exenberger, Eva Kriss, Judith Prem, Stephan Roth, Ursula Schwarz and André Winter for their support and assistance.