Die letzten Zeugen - Das Buc



Diese Geschichte wurde im Projekt "3808 - Einladung" erstellt.

Dear Friends at a Letter to the Stars,

We had a wonderful visit to Vienna in May 2008, thanks to the excellent preparation by your team, the careful attention to every detail and the hospitality which was extended to us by everyone involved. I had been looking forward to this trip not only because of my earlier contact with Josef Neumayer during my visit to Vienna in September 2003 organized the Jewish Welcome Service, but also because the opportunity of speaking to school children in the area where I grew up (Most Viertel) very much appealed to me.

We had an opportunity during our Vienna stay to meet up with old friends as well as with my cousin George Wozasek (from Linz) and two of his children. This is a part of my family I do not see very often and I was grateful that this visit gave me that opportunity. Vienna was wonderful - all clean and looking its best. We very
much liked the Leopold and Liechtenstein museums but we also visited many of our favorite places from the Belvedere to the Schönbrunn gardens and had sandwiches at Trzesniewski, which, to our great delight, had opened a subsidiary in Hietzing not far from our hotel. Also near the hotel was a Konditorei which sold Zaunerstollen. What a delight and what an excellent location!

We were impressed with the obvious sincerity with which the Austrian leadership and all the people with whom we came into contact tackled the dark period of National Socialism in an effort not only to atone for past atrocities, but to endeavor, through education, that such things could never happen again. This was amply demonstrated during our visit to Parliament and the Heldenplatz. It is to be hoped that these efforts on the part of the Austrian leadership, penetrate into every corner of the country and are heeded by the entire population. The work of A Letter to the Stars is certainly an important component in all of this.

As our family had factories in Wieselburg as well as Ybbs, I was looking forward to the visit in Ybbs and talking to the students there. The 3 students who met us in Vienna were clearly well informed and had a wide horizon in their general outlook. This was due, I am sure, to the excellent work of their teacher Mag. Hans
Müller who made our visit as pleasurable as it could possibly be, including an afternoon trip to Krems during which we travelled along the left bank of the Danube and passed many places to which my father had taken me as a child.

The students had been active in the restoration of the old Jewish cemetery in Ybbs, a project undertaken in conjunction with students from Poland, from the Czech Republic and from the Jewish Gymnasium in Vienna. The visit to the cemetery was for me one of the most memorable moments of the trip because I was able lo see the graves of my great grand parents, of my grandfather and of his two brothers. I had not seen any of these graves before and I was impressed at how well kept they were.

Another highlight of the trip was organized by our old friend Dr. Johannes Kammerstiitter in Wieselburg whom we had met in the past as he is writing a history of Jewish families in the Most Viertel. He had invited us to Wieselburg one evening to meet 7 class mates who had been in the first grade with me in the Volkschule in Wieselburg. Here we were, all of us around 80 years old, telling stories of our war time experiences. One of them remembered walking home from school with me. It was indeed a memorable evening. Dr. Kammerstatter also invited us to a final evening at Schloss Wolfpassing near Wieselburg where teachers and students from the Francisco Josephinum in Wieselburg and from Ybbs met for a podium discussion by former residents of the Most Viertel who had fled in 1938/39: Ruth Mautner (who had fled to Sweden), Ernst Flesch (on a Kindertransport to England and whose grandfather was my Jewish religion teacher), Paul Peter and Lucie Porges (who was in France with me on a Kindertransport) and me. The program was moderated by Dr. Kammerstiitter and featured a musical interlude and a film listing the names of hundreds of Jewish
people from the Most Viertel who had lost their lives during the Holocaust. It ended with a meal entirely prepared by the students at Wolfpassing. I could not have imagined a better ending to the whole trip.
We thank our friends at a Letter to the Stars for making it all possible and wish you much success in your future endeavors.

With warm greetings,
Gerald Watkins

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