Since its inception in 1949, the Council of Europe’s core mission has been the reconciliation and reestablishment of dialogue among Europeans, as well as the protection of the rule of law, human rights, and democratic values.
The Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe are “an invitation to travel and to discover the rich and diverse heritage of Europe by bringing people and places together in networks of shared history and heritage. They put into practice the values of the Council of Europe: human rights, cultural diversity, intercultural dialogue and mutual exchanges across borders.”
Mauthausen was an international concentration camp (1938 - 1945) where all of Europe – against its will – came together and where it was precisely the diversity of languages and cultures that was valued by the prisoners, who had all, in their own way, fought for a new and peaceful Europe of international solidarity.
The Comité International de Mauthausen, the umbrella organisation of the survivors of the Mauthausen CC consisting of 22 member states, created after many years of preparation work this new European Cultural Route.
This new route Via Memoria Mauthausen will, of course, be a transnational route, since people from all over Europe have converged in Mauthausen. Mauthausen will be the centre place: Many of the prisoners had come to Mauthausen from other concentration camps, some from their hometown, from prisons or camps for forced labourers or prisoners of war.
The first main objective of this new cultural route will be to make these routes readable to a greater public: We will be connecting places from all over Europe leading to Mauthausen, from Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Slovenia, Serbia, Poland or Russia. The core and the centre of this European Cultural Route will be situated in Mauthausen, Austria – including the system of about 50 subcamps or other places of historical significance – and all of them related to other places all over Europe.
The second objective will be to tell the life stories of these prisoners: We will be connecting people then and today. We will tell the life stories and individual biographies of the prisoners. Many people have in the last decades been following the traces of these routes, very often without much information about the sites and the connections between them.
The Via Memoria Mauthausen will be established in 2020.