It is with great sadness that the IHRA and its Austrian Delegation announce the sudden passing of our beloved and highly esteemed colleague and friend, Ambassador Dr. Thomas Michael Baier.
Born in Vienna on 8 May, 1950, Michael studied Law at the University of Vienna and joined the Austrian Foreign Ministry in 1975. His career postings were in Rome, Baghdad, Sofia, and Geneva. Since 1997, he served as Austrian Ambassador to Ethiopia, Algeria and North Macedonia. In between these postings, as of 2008 when Austria held the Presidency of the IHRA, he became a highly valued IHRA delegate. After his retirement in October 2015, the Austrian Foreign Ministry appointed him as Special Envoy to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), an organization which he passionately believed in. Michael substantially contributed to raising awareness of Holocaust education, remembrance, and research within the Austrian Foreign Ministry.
In his capacity as Co-Head of the Austrian Delegation to the IHRA, Michael was involved in numerous key initiatives. As chairman of the Legal Drafting Group of the IHRA in 2010, Michael’s work resulted in the IHRA’s Working Rules. He was a founding member and first chairperson of the IHRA Association until the end of 2012. More recently, his tireless efforts to secure a Host Country agreement for the IHRA Permanent Office will have a lasting impact on the IHRA’s work.
In 2016, Michael chaired the Evaluation Reference Group and in 2018, he contributed decisively to the important work of the Strategic Implementation Group. In 2019, he played an instrumental role in drafting the IHRA Ministerial Declaration.
Michael was also a member of the Advisory Group to the Global Task Force Against Holocaust Distortion set up by the German Presidency in 2020. In this function, he participated in the work on the IHRA publication “Recognizing and Countering Holocaust Distortion: Recommendations for Policy and Decision Makers.” He contributed in a substantial way to the successful adoption of the IHRA’s non-legally binding working definition of antigypsyism/anti-Roma discrimination and the subsequent decision of the IHRA to task the Committee on the Genocide of the Roma to elaborate Recommendations on Teaching and Learning about the Genocide of the Roma.
In light of his deep knowledge of the country, he was highly engaged in the process surrounding the Republic of North Macedonia’s application to become an IHRA Liaison Country.
Michael generously provided his advice as an expert in international law and his experience as a senior diplomat to the Permanent Office staff and other IHRA colleagues over the years with a kindness and dedication that was unparalleled. Michael will be very much missed, as a respected colleague and also as a very dear friend.
Our thoughts and heartfelt condolences are with Michael’s family, his friends and his colleagues in the Austrian Delegation.
May his memory always be a blessing.