With the aim of promoting and realizing a Shoah Wall of Names Memorial in Vienna, Kurt Yakov Tutter founded an Initiative Group in May 2000. The first meeting of the Initiative Group took place in Vienna on June 15th 2000, in the office of the National Fund of the Republic of Austria. Present were the four founders:
- Dr. Walther Lichem, formerly the Austrian Ambassador in Canada
- Mag.a Hannah Lessing, Secretary General of the National Fund
- Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Neugebauer,
Scientific Leader of the Documentation Archive of the Austrian Resistance (DÖW – Dokumentationsarchiv des österreichischen Widerstandes))
- Kurt Yakov Tutter
Subsequently Dr. Wolfgang Neugebauer appointed Dr. Gerhard Ungar, the leader of the DÖW Project “Gathering of the Names of Austrian Victims of the Shoah”, as his deputy in the Association.
Planning for the Project began immediately. A “Documentation for the Memorial” was prepared, in which the aims and purposes of the Initiative Group were clearly stated. In the course of the following years, this Documentation was distributed to all those whom we asked to support the Memorial. After some time, we were able to include in this Document a Visualisation (perspective rendering) of the Memorial, which had been prepared by Dr. John Cirka, Professor of Architecture at the Ryerson University in Toronto. The Visualisation strongly sustained our purpose. (See the Website Page “Visualisation”).
A further task which we set ourselves was to gather prominent Austrians, who would not only commit themselves to the realization of the Memorial, but who were also in a strategic position to decisively further the Project. To this purpose we created the Proponents Committee. Within a short time, 14 prominent Austrians joined the Committee. (See the Website Page “Proponents Committee”).
The Initiative Group itself soon had 8 members. In 2006, the Initiative Group and the Proponents Committee created an official Association, with the following Name:
Association for the Building of a Wall of Names Memorial
dedicated to the Jewish Children, Women and Men of Austria
who were murdered in the Shoah
Dr. Walther Lichem and Kurt Yakov Tutter were respectively elected Chairman and Secretary-General of the Association.
The existence of the Association gave us significant legal standing with the authorities of the City of Vienna and of the Federal Government. That did in no way mean that the City and the Government would therefore approve the Project, but from now on, the Authorities had to recognize us as a legal entity.
Members of the Association, particularly those in the Proponents Committee, participated in the Memorial Project as guides and strategists. They gave the Project an indispensable credibility. At the same time they were fully occupied with their own careers and could not therefore participate significantly in the day-to-day work for the Memorial Project. Kurt Yakov Tutter soon became not only the Secretary-General of the Association but the entire office staff ! He also became the primary participant in negotiations with the City of Vienna and the Austrian Government. In due course, he assumed responsibility for elaborating plans to finance the entire Memorial Project. He was ultimately successful in raising the full amount of Euro 5.3 Million.
Kurt Yakov Tutter also participated in drafting the design of the Memorial. For the architects, he prepared the detailed 30 page manual “Instructions for the Design and Architecture of the Memorial”. He remained in close contact with the architects until the completion of the Project.
Kurt Yakov Tutter was born in Vienna in the year 1930. In 1939 he fled with his family to Belgium. In September 1942 his parents were deported from Brussels to Auschwitz. A Belgian family in Ghent sheltered Kurt and his sister Rita illegally until the liberation and thus saved their lives. In 1948 Kurt emigrated to Toronto, Canada, where he still lives.
In May 2000, when he founded the Initiative Group, Kurt was 70 years old. His position as Secretary-General as well as being the entire office staff of the Association required of him the steady commitment of a 36 hour work week, which he fulfilled on an honorary volunteer basis for over 20 years, until the Festive Inauguration of the Memorial.