The Memorial: From the first Idea to its Realization
On 19th June 2005 he memorial was presented to the public. It is located opposite the house that was used as synagogue before WW II (Address: Burgplatz 1). Its aim is to be a site of remembrance fort he expelled and murdered members of the Jewish community of Laa an der Thaya – Lower Austria (85 kilometers north of Vienna).
The idea to make a memorial of some kind goes back more than a decade though. Back in 1991, when the 16 year old Magdalena Müllner got in contact with the first of the expelled, we first learnd about the sadness of the survivors that there was nothing left in Laa to remember at the former Jewish community and its members. It took several years until the idea of the memorial was formed as it is realized today. For example, there was hope to make a remembrance-room in the former synagogue or to put up a memorial plate on an outside-wall.
Soon it turned out that the efforts of private persons, that is the Müllner Family, would not lead to a memorial in a public space. So the society “Lead Niskor – Society for the commemoration of the expelled and murdered Austrian Jews” was founded.
The idea of a memorial started to form itself more clearly when the place in front of the synagogue was to be reconstructed by the city-government. So the Society requested the permission from the city-government of Laa to erect a memorial stone on public property. After the request was accepted, detailed plans were to be made. In March 2004 we asked the son of a former citizen of Laa, Uri Yokel (who owns a well-known architect’s office in Washington, D. C.) to make the blueprints for the memorial. We were glad, when he accepted. In July of the same year Uri and his father Felix Yokel came to Laa to discuss the details with the local company (Thornton), which was responsible for the construction.
The choice of the material (granite) has a practical and a symbolic dimension. On the one hand it is a very hard stone and therefore grants that the memorial will last for many decades to come. On the other hand we decided to use granite that originates from Upper-Austria (Muehlviertel), just a few kilometers from the Austrian concentration camp Mauthausen. Many prisoners died there from hard work and exhaustion.
After the planning-phase was finished, the construction was started in spring 2005. The immense costs of the construction were fully covered by private donations to the society.