Austria Honors Centropa’s Edward Serotta

Edward Serotta (l) and Senator Ben Cardin

Edward Serotta, founder and director of Centropa.org, has been awarded  the Grand Decoration of Honor for Services to the Republic of Austria.

The Austrian Parliament’s President, Barbara Prammer, presented the medal at a ceremony Feb. 21 at the Austrian Parliament in Vienna. JTA writes:

Speakers at the ceremony included Vienna Chief Rabbi Chaim Eisenberg and U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), who was in Vienna for the parliamentary meetings of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. “Austria lost something precious during the Holocaust,” Cardin said.  “It was destroyed. With Centropa, Austria has just a small part of that back.”

Established in 1997, Centropa — the Central Europe Center for Research and Documentation — has conducted interviews with hundreds of Jews in a number of countries in eastern and central Europe and uploaded them as a searchable database along with an archive of family photographs of the interviewees.

Centropa, which promotes the fostering of educational programs about Jewish life and cultures, uses these materials for exhibitions, films and books and also as the basis of educational programs about Jewish life, culture, and history. It has received more than $2.5 million since its was founded from various Austrian ministries, city offices and regional states.

Among the guests at the award ceremony were nearly 60 members of a monthly club established by Centropa in Vienna for the 100 Austrian Holocaust survivors interviewed for its database. At Serotta’s request, Prammer’s office flew in Stefan Sablic, a Sephardic singer from Belgrade, who performed three songs in Ladino during the ceremony.

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