Why this story matters:
During the Second World War, the Nazis killed between 40,000 and 60,000 people in a grove near Maly Trostinec, about 10 kilometers from Minsk. 13,500 of them were Austrian Jews. Maly Trostinec is therefore the place where the majority of the Austrian Jews were murdered.
Today, only a small, inconspicuous memorial stone, build by the Belarussians, reminds us of what happened there 75 years ago. Nothing more. Maly Trostinec does not have a place in our official history yet.
Waltraud Barton from Vienna has made it her mission to anchor Maly Trostinec as a place of destruction in the Austrian collective memory. She demands from the Republic of Austria an official memorial stone with a list of all victims’ names to be placed in the forest of Maly Trostinec.
Der Standard editor, Irene Brickner, wrote about the current status of the memorial:
"The struggle between the SPÖ and the ÖVP over the memorial in Maly Trostinec lasted until the end of their term. No agreement was reached concerning the concept and funds for this project, which is so important for the Austrian culture of remembrance.
The memorial will most likely be on the agenda of the next ÖVP and FPÖ federal government. "
We are yet to see whether the new government will continue the project.
Details from the story:
- Around 13,500 Austrian Jews were killed by the National Socialists in the forest near the Belarusian Maly Trostinec, a small town 12 kilometers from Minsk. Between November 1941 and October 1942, 23 transports of deportees from European cities arrived in Minsk, including 10 trains from Vienna.
- Today, hardly anyone in Austria knows about Maly Trostinec. The Viennese Waltraud Barton is to thank for nurturing the memory about the place.
- After 75 years, there is no official Austrian memorial at the site.