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Association for Political Enlightenment

(Society for Political Enlightenment – called SPE here for brevity)

SPE was founded in 1982. Its mission is to advance the cause of democratic and pluralistic principle, e.g. awareness of democracy, acceptance of civic responsibility and solidarity, and to oppose neo-Nazi or extreme-Right trends by means of information and enlightenment. The Society owes its birth to an initiative of former Federal Chancellor Bruno Kreisky. 

The Society views itself as a political initiative, yet it clearly does not wish to be seen as a partisan politics club. Members of the Society include adherents of various political parties, as well as Austrians without party affiliation. 

The tasks of SPE focus on the following areas of interest: 

  • Integration and coordination of current activities such as in political education and contemporary history (hence collaboration with the Federal Ministry for Education and Art, the Documentation Archives of the Austrian Resistance, and the Commission for the Study of Fascism.
  • Suggestion and implementation of new initiatives to reinforce democratic institutions and democratic awarenes and thereby to counteract extreme Right-wing tendencies.

The activities of the SPE cover all of Austria (key areas: Innsbruck and Vienna). An effort will be made to draw upon the lessons of the Nazi period, and to advance the broadest democratic objectives by such means as exhibits or seminars. The regular newsletter of the SPE will present important issues of current Austrian of current Austria in a critical light to active and interested persons in public life, as well as to private citizens. Greater sensitivity to the dangers of Right-wing extremism and its ideological roots can be achieved in collaboration with journalists of the Austrian media. Moreover, propagation tools to further critical and democratic awareness are provided. The society’s newsletter, “Informationen…” can be ordered free of charge from the Society’s Innsbruck Secretariat (four issues per year) 

Yearly study tours to the Auschwitz-Birkenau memorial attempt to provide a basis for continued engagement with Nazi crimes through reasoned discussion, rather than sensationalized event. Austrians are thus reinforced in their opposition to Right-wing extremism and Nazism. 

The work of SPE also deals with the issues of discrimination and prejudice. Lecture series are offered on these subjects. Related and relevant projects are assisted and supported in accordance with the status of a scientific society. 

The leadership of SPE includes by design persons active in the most varied walks of life — the media, universities, youth organizations, the arts. A broad scope of activities can thus be assured. Moreover, interested persons may become supporting members. Due to financial exigencies, SPE is dependent on donations of supporting members.