The story of Sandor Vandor is intrinsically tied to the history of the community of St. Anna am Aigen. His return soon turned out to be a fortunate coincidence of fate for the people who witnessed WWII over the post-war generation to the generation of today’s young people who will create our future.

Sandor Vandor put the reflection of the bitter past into a new perspective. During the war there were quite a few local people who risked their lives helping forced laborers like Sandor Vandor. After so many years he pointed out that he still was very grateful for their selfless help and courage and that not only gruesome things have happened. With his acknowledgement Sandor Vandor helped us to come to terms with our past, of which many people still avoid talking about.

You have to admire Sandor for not jumping to conclusions and not being prejudice, despite experiencing terrible things during the war. From his approach to the past we can learn that although it is not always easy to deal with our involvement in WWII, not only horrible things happened. His visit especially had a deep impact on one person. All her life the feeling of guilt for not helping enough during the war haunted Maria Lackner. Only the reunion with Sandor Vandor was able to free her from this guilt, as he showed her that it was her help and courage that gave him the possibility to start a wonderful family. With his return to St. Anna am Aigen Sandor Vandor himself was finally able to experience his psychological liberation.

Although Sandor Vandor’s story ultimately had a good ending, it should be a reminder for us never to forget the things that happened during WWII. We should take these experiences and awareness and integrate them in a positive way to create a better future for all of us.

Josef Weinhandl
Mayor of the Marktgemeinde St. Anna am Aigen.

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