Opera on Nazi Crimes Premieres in Vienna

An opera about Nazi atrocities against handicapped children had its world premiere in Vienna on Friday.

Rachel Hirshfeld ,

Holocaust memorial ceremony
Holocaust memorial ceremony

Austrian lawmakers gathered Friday to watch the premiere of an opera depicting how Nazis systematically tortured and killed mentally or physically handicapped children at a hospital in Vienna after Austria was annexed by Nazi Germany during World War II.

"Spiegelgrund" by contemporary Austrian composer Hannes Androsch, was performed at the Austrian parliament. The composer has dedicated the work to his great-grandfather, who died in a Nazi concentration camp.

The opera details the atrocities at the Am Spiegelgrund clinic in Vienna between 1938 and 1945, where thousands of frail children, mostly Jewish, were murdered as part of the Third Reich's "euthanasia" program designed to rid society of people deemed unfit to live.

"It is the duty of each generation to confront the tragedy of the Holocaust," said the 50-year-old composer, according to AFP.

In the opera, Androsch wanted to trace the continuing horror of atrocities against children from antiquity to Nazism.

His work includes descriptions by Plutarch of the draconian treatment of children in the Greek state of Sparta, and traditional children's songs evoking the mistreatment and the memories of those who survived the Vienna hospital, AFP reported.

The opera was unveiled as the world prepared to mark Holocaust Memorial Day on Sunday, January 27, the date in 1945 when the Soviet army liberated the Auschwitz concentration camp in then-occupied Poland.