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