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Abstract

Human rights are viewed and upheld differently by different cultures and countries. The Syrian refugee crisis is a growing and pressing international crisis. Although they are neighboring countries that have intertwined histories and share some common cultural characteristics, Austria and Germany have demonstrated very different responses to the Syrian refugee crisis. Austria’s acceptance rate of asylum applications is almost half of Germany’s. To understand why this difference and others exist, an understanding of the history of human rights, national memory, and regional geopolitics is necessary. The period after the Holocaust and WWII is particularly important to the modern human rights movement. The Holocaust and the events that took place during WWII served as a trigger for the creation of the United Nations and the implementation of human rights standards and transitional justice mechanisms. Austria and Germany have different discourses surrounding the Holocaust and crimes committed by Nazi Germany. Geopolitics after WWII also heavily influences each country’s discourse surrounding the Holocaust. I argue that these roots of the modern human rights movement influence current policy, national remembrance, and treatment towards Syrian refugees in both countries.

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