Nominations are open for Austria's new Simon Wiesenthal Prize honoring members of society who show a commitment to combating anti-Semitism.
The prize is the first of its kind in Europe. It will give out an award to three individuals or groups annually as a “distinction for their special civil society commitment to combating anti-Semitism and raising awareness about the Holocaust.”
The honor is an initiative by the National Fund of the Republic of Austria for Victims of National Socialism.
In July 2020, an Austrian parliamentary committee voted to create the award, named after Simon Wiesenthal, the late Austrian Holocaust survivor and Nazi hunter.
The goal is “to encourage others to raise their voices,” said Wolfgang Sobotka, president of the National Council, Austria’s lower house of parliament.
The idea of creating the prize came to Sobotka during a July 2018 trip to Israel during which he met Simon Wiesethal’s granddaughter, Rachel Kreisberg.
The prize will be endowed every year with € 30,000 ($40,000) and will be awarded for two categories: a “civil society commitment against anti-Semitism” and a “civil society commitment to education about the Holocaust.”
There will also be a main prize of € 15,000 ($22,000) for a “special civil society commitment” against anti-Semitism or for Holocaust educaiton.
Criteria for receiving the award includes actively participating in a project against anti-Semitism; actively critically engaging against anti-Semitism; a commitment to Holocaust education; or committing to implementing measures counteracting anti-Semitism.
To receive the honor, a potential winner’s work must seek to “communicate actively, strengthen and disseminate knowledge about the Holocaust, increase understanding in society of the mechanisms and consequences of anti-Semitism, and raise awareness about the contemporary dangers of anti-Semitism. In particular, sensitivity and understanding are to be created where a critical attitude toward anti-Semitism is to be especially promoted.”
The administration of the award will be the responsibility of the National Fund of the Republic of Austria for Victims of National Socialism. Winners will be decided by a board of trustees, headed by the President of the Austrian National Council, and chosen based on a shortlist chosen by a six-member jury.
The jury will include the president of the Jewish community in Austria, representatives of Simon Wiesenthal’s family, and individuals with academic experience in contemporary history or a relevant field.