Austrian Chancellor Visits Yad Vashem, Western Wall on Israel Visit

Sebastian Kurz, who formed a coalition with far-right Freedom Party that has anti-Semitic roots, also scheduled to meet Holocaust survivors

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz speaks at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum in Jerusalem on June 10, 2018.
Abir Sultan/AP

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz is visiting Israel for the first time since taking office in October. Kurz visited Yad Vashem Sunday and Jeruaslem holy sites.

Kurz, chairman of the conservative Austrian People's Party, was appointed chancellor in October and formed a coalition with the far-right Freedom Party, which has anti-Semitic roots. He also appointed Heinz-Christian Strache, leader of the Freedom Party, as his deputy.

Kurz opened his tour with a visit of the Jerusalem Holocaust archives at Yad Vashem. He then proceeded to lay a wreath at the Holocaust memorial, accompanied by Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev and Holocaust survivor Victor Klein.

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz is shown against a stone wall with the word VIEN engraved on it. at Yad Vashem World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem. June 10, 2018.
Noam Rivkin Fenton/Courtesy of Yad Vashem

During the visit, Kurz announced a 1-million euro donation for a collection at Yad Vashem to preserve Holocaust-era art pieces and documents. Kurz and Yad Vashem also signed a cooperation memorandum through which the museum will receive archival materials from Austria's Federal Archives and Mauthausen concentration camp memorial site. In addition, Austria extended an agreement meant to strengthen Holocaust education in Austria, which will bring hundreds of teachers and educators to Yad Vashem.

Kurz wrote in Yad Vashem's guestbook: "we stand here today humbled by the monstrous suffering the Nazis caused many Jewish citizens of our country, and all of Europe's Jewry it is crucial that the words "never forget" be remembered as "never again."

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz rekindles the eternal flame in the Hall of Remembrance at Yad Vashem World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem. June 10, 2018.
Abir Sultan/Reuters

Kurz will participate Monday in the American Jewish Committee's conference in Jerusalem.

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz lays a wreath on the grave of the late Israeli President Shimon Peres at the Mount Herzl cemetery in Jerusalem on June 10, 2018.
\ RONEN ZVULUN/ REUTERS