Lapid to speak at Mauthausen concentration camp on Holocaust Remembrance Day

Foreign minister set to fly to Austria for Thursday ceremony alongside Austrian chancellor and other top officials; will also deliver address at Vienna’s new Shoah memorial

Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter

Then- Minister of Finance Yair Lapid at the name reading ceremony for victims of Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day at the Knesset, April 8, 2013.
Then- Minister of Finance Yair Lapid at the name reading ceremony for victims of Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day at the Knesset, April 8, 2013. (GPO)

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid will depart for Austria on Wednesday to take part in a memorial ceremony at the Mauthausen concentration camp, his spokesman’s office announced on Tuesday.

The event will take place on Thursday to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer, Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg, Interior Minister Gerhard Karner and local Jewish communal leaders will also participate in the Shoah ceremony at the concentration camp.

About 119,000 prisoners, including 38,120 Jews, died at the complex, used primarily for opponents of the Nazi regime.

Afterward, Lapid is set to participate in the “We Remember” ceremony at Vienna’s new Holocaust memorial. He will be joined by Austria’s President Alexander Van der Bellen, Nehammar and other Austrian politicians.

Lapid, whose father Tommy survived the Holocaust, will be joined by Aliza Bin-Noun, the Foreign Ministry’s deputy director-general for Europe.

His office did not say when he planned to return to Israel.

A woman is seen at Shoah Name Wall Memorial in Vienna on the occasion of its inauguration, on November 9, 2021. (Georg Hochmuth/APA/AFP)

The 49-year-old Nehammer,  a former soldier who was appointed by the country’s conservatives to calm the waters in Austria after a corruption investigation into former leader Sebastian Kurz, assumed office on December 6.

Kurz stepped down in October in an effort to defuse a government crisis, triggered by prosecutors’ announcement that he was a target of the corruption investigation.

Kurz enjoyed warm relations with Israel’s former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and credited him for helping him realize, relatively early in the coronavirus pandemic, the need to ratchet up measures to try to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Austria’s Chancellor Karl Nehammer speaks with the media at an EU Summit at the European Council building in Brussels, on December 16, 2021. (Kenzo Tribouillard/Pool Photo via AP)

Kurz’s government had also been broadly supportive of Israel on the international stage. In May, amid the fighting between Israel and the Hamas terror group in Gaza, the Israeli flag flew on Austria’s Federal Chancellery building, and Kurz assigned clear blame to Hamas for the violence.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett held a call with Nehammer in late December, congratulating him on assuming office and inviting him to visit Israel.

Also Thursday, Knesset Speaker Mickey Levy will address the Bundestag in honor of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, the first time a Knesset speaker has addressed the full German parliament.

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