Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen addresses the ceremony to mark the 80th anniversary of the annexation of Austria by Nazi Germany in Vienna, Austria, on March 12, 2018. (Xinhua/Pan Xu)
VIENNA, March 12 (Xinhua) -- A state ceremony to mark the 80th anniversary of the annexation of Austria by Nazi Germany was held here on Monday, with the presence of many leading officials, Austrian national public service broadcaster ORF reported.
In an address to the present, President Alexander Van der Bellen described the annexation on March 12, 1938 as the catalyst for the "darkest chapter in the history of our country."
He warned that racism and antisemitism have not disappeared since that era, and still exist today.
Austrians were not however all victims to the annexation, he said, noting that many were also participants, often in leading positions. He said Austria therefore "bows in humility" to all the victims of National Socialism.
Chancellor Sebastian Kurz also spoke at the ceremony, saying that due to its past, Austria is obligated to be "open, freedom-loving, and tolerant."
The country must also learn from history, the young chancellor said, calling for "particular responsibility" of the present generations.
Kurz also reflected on the massive number of Jews killed by the Nazi regime, and said the government plans to erect a monument to their memory in Vienna.