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THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL

|

JULY-AUGUST 2016

9

LETTERS

Assuming Responsibility

for a Dark Period

I very much enjoyed the May issue of The Foreign Service Journal , as I do

every month. However, the article by

Jeffrey Glassman, “Israelit Friedhof: A Jewish Cemetery in Vienna,” presents

the author’s personal assessment of how

Austria has dealt with the darkest period

in its history rather than a factual analy-

sis of this delicate subject. That assess-

ment is subjective and could perpetuate

obsolete stereotypes.

Mr. Glassman mentions the historic

Washington Agreement, signed by the

Austrian and U.S. governments in 2001,

which finally ended a period during

which Austria as a society struggled to

accept the facts as to its involvement in

the machinery of the Nazi dictatorship.

Contrary to the author’s assessment

of the Austrian policies, I am proud to

say that our system today is comprehen-

sive, just and often referred to as a best-

practice model for restitution laws.

No less an authority than State Department Special Adviser on Holo- caust Issues Stuart Eizenstat, in a speech on May 27, 2015, said: “I witnessed

and have been deeply moved by how

far Austria came from reluctantly and

incompletely coming to terms with its

complicated World War II role to now

becoming a leader in Holocaust justice.”

As the last step in the implementa-

tion of Austria’s international obligations

arising from the Washington Agreement,

the Fund for the Restoration of Jew- ish Cemeteries in Austria was set up

in

December 2010.

Managed by the Austrian National Fund, this account has been endowed

with a total of 20 million euros by the

federal government, to be disbursed

over the next 20 years by matching

contributions of the cemeteries’ owners

after their conclusion of main-

tenance agreements with the

respective municipalities.

More than 60 Jewish cem-

eteries throughout Austria will

thus be safeguarded from ruin.

Furthermore, the city of

Vienna signed a maintenance

agreement with the Jewish com-

munity on Oct. 1, 2013, to allow

for restoration of the single most impor-

tant project, the Jewish cemetery in

Währing that is mentioned in the article.

Vienna has already awarded 500,000

euros for the restoration of the janitor’s

house there.

Thorsten Eisingerich

Minister, Austrian Diplomatic Service

Director of the Office for Press

& Information

Embassy of Austria

Washington, D.C.

Police Volunteering

I enjoyed reading “From Consul General to Police Volunteer” by Ann Sides in

the May

Journal

focus on life

after the Foreign Service.

I retired in 1995 after a

consular career and final

tour as consul general in

Kingston.

I, too, became a police

volunteer in retirement—

after a 700-hour police academy, I was

sworn in as a Texas Peace Officer. I

will be retiring (again) in July from the

Brazos County Sheriff’s Office, where I

have been an investigator for the past 10

years.

I explain to people who question

my career change that police work and

Foreign Service officer work are very

similar. We make contacts, gather infor-

mation, write reports and make recom-

mendations to superiors

(DA or CA) who decide

whether to issue an arrest

warrant or, maybe, impose

sanctions.

We both serve and

protect the American

public and enforce laws

(although I was told that,

as a consular officer, I was not

enforcing visa law, just administering it).

I now wear the exact same uniform

I wore in the Foreign Service—suit and

tie, albeit with room for pistol and hand-

cuffs under my coat.

James Carter

FSO, retired

Bryan, Texas

Consular Work During

the Vietnam War

I recently read Lange Schermerhorn’s

April 2015 article, “Doing Social Work in Southeast Asia.” Never mind why it took

me a year to get around to

reading the article, but it was

worth the wait—and simi-

larly worthwhile to read other

articles about the Foreign

Service in Vietnam in that

FSJ

focus marking 40 years since

the fall of Saigon.

Without being a scholar of

that era—and never having set

foot anywhere in “Indochina”—

I found the articles wide-ranging and

utterly fascinating.

Amb. Schermerhorn’s description of

the situation for consular work deserves

the widest possible readership because

of its insights about cultural differences

and different legal traditions between

Vietnam and the United States.

Larry Lesser

FSO, retired

Washington, D.C.