22 Jan 2018

Austrians mourn the death of a civil courage icon

Ute Bock, a refugee worker who saw the need in people and helped them instead of condemning them, died Friday in Vienna. She was 75.

Christine Tragler
Christine Tragler Der Standard, Austria
Source: Der Standard
Austrians mourn the death of a civil courage icon - NewsMavens
Ute Bock. Wikicommons/Manfred Werner.

Why this story matters:

She stood for a "different" Austria: one that helps refugees and migrants without fear or mistrust.

Ute Bock spent much of her life helping thousands of refugees and asylum seekers find housing and aid, despite political, legal and financial resistance. She died Jan. 19 following a short illness, but her impact on the lives of thousands of immigrants and migrants lives on.

"Until the very last second, all her thoughts and actions revolved around the well-being of escaped people, and the fulfillment of her greatest desire to become superfluous is more remote than ever in times like these", they say on the website of the refugee project of Ute Bock

Her unrestricted commitment to refugees made her a leading figure in Austrian civil society. While her commitment to refugees won her praise, it also drew the malice and hate of the FPÖ and other right-wing populists. The woman, who was awarded the Golden Merit Award of the Republic of Austria by Federal President Heinz Fischer in 2012, was a moral authority.

For critically minded people, the "other" Austrians, she once again became a central figure of identification: her popularity increased with every fundraiser and every film about her work.

In the words of Austrian president Alexander Van der Bellen: "Ute Bock has shown what humanity can mean."

migration,human rights,women's issues

Details from the story:

  • After her retirement as an educator, Ute Bock founded the association called "refugee project Ute Bock".
  • The project is financed mainly by private donations, sponsors and prize money.
  • In October 2012, Bock was awarded the Golden Merit of the Republic of Austria. She considered the honor to be a mandate to continue her work for refugees in Austria with full commitment.
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