On June 11th, during the study tour in memory politics, we met Slovenian student activists in Vienna. All of them work towards gaining acknowledgement of the persecution of the Slovenian minority in Austria during the time of National Socialism and to cultivate a sense of political memory within their community. We spoke with several members of the KSŠŠD (Klub slovenskih studentk * studentov na Dunaju) and learned a little about the JÖH (Jewish Austria Student Union), the Vienna Green Party and the antifascist activism within Vienna.
It was incredibly inspiring to see students passionately trying to preserve and memorialize their history. Every student we met was devoted to and eager to speak about Slovenian culture in Austria and the political actions they take to both keep their culture alive and promote anti-fascism and inclusivity in and out of the KSŠŠD. Their commitment to upholding Slovenian cultural significance comes in multiple forms, such as weekly lessons in learning the Slovenian language and events commemorating important historical dates throughout the year.
On June 30th, the KSŠŠD will celebrate the 100 year anniversary of their club’s foundation. Their anniversary will be celebrated at the same time as their yearly festival ‘Mondšajngassenfešta’, which is named after the area where their club is located. Each year the KSŠŠD manages to host more than 500 people at their party, all of whom come to celebrate the club and their activism involving Slovenian history within Vienna.
Although the KSŠŠD is well known for their large festival, they also have other activities that take place on a regular basis. For example, every Wednesday at 7.30pm the KSŠŠD opens their doors to both club members and others in the community for choir practice. They also let other clubs and community members use their club’s spaces on a regular basis.
German is the only language that is recognized as an ‘official language’ by all within Austria, however the KSŠŠD continues to fight for Slovenian language rights within schools, courts and more. One of the ways they do this is by offering Slovenian language courses to members of the minority group wanting to learn more about their history as well as the language. The KSŠŠD is also home to “the largest independent Slovenian library in the Austrian capital [which] includes around 6000 books”. To read more about the library click here.
It was very motivating to listen to the KSŠŠD members speak about their role in memory politics within Austria as well as to see how passionate they are about sharing the history of Slovenians within Austria. To read more about the KSŠŠD click here.
Elena Senecal is in her final undergraduate year studying History and Political Science. Her main academic interests include media perceptions of the Third Reich and the intersections of class and political nationalism. Throughout her time in Europe, she has found particular interest in how different regional histories are portrayed to the public.
Rowan Salverda is an undergraduate student finishing up her French degree at the University of Victoria. She loves travelling as well as learning about different cultures and languages.