Bruno Kreisky Foundation

for Human Rights

Ute Bock (Austria)

Ute Bock was born in 1941 in Linz, Austria. After high school she worked for a year in the private economy before she decided to become a nursery nurse. In 1969 she became an employee of the city of Vienna, and began working at the home on Zohmanngasse in the tenth district. From 1976 onwards she was in charge of this building. Since the early nineties the city’s office for youth, began sending young people to Ute Bock. At first they were children from foreign workers’ families, and later on they were unaccompanied minors seeking refugee from war zones. These refugees were typically trying to apply for asylum in Austria, and living in the Zohnmanngasse home. For many years, Ute Bock was the person who took care of youth who nobody else wanted to help.

In September of 1999, more than 30 African teenagers and young adults were arrested on the suspicion that they were involved in drug dealing. Ute Bock was also accused of enabling the creation of gangs, and drug trafficking. As a result she was temporarily suspended from her job. The charges against Bock were dropped, but she was forbidden by the state from bringing Africans seeking asylum into the home she was managing. Ute Bock did not have the heart to put young people out on the streets, so she organized a private housing community. She financed this endeavor personally, and ran it in her free time. When she retired from her job in August, she began attending to her charges around the clock. Her initial housing project had approximately 60 apartments that could hold 310 people total. Additionally she helped hundreds of people seeking asylum, who didn’t receive state support, but weren’t allowed to work. At the least she helped to get them a mailing address and legal counsel, so that they could continue the asylum application process. Bock financed the housing buildings for homeless refugees from her retirement fund, savings, donations, and prize winnings. She has received many awards for her dedication to helping refugees. She won the UNHCR- Refugee Prize (2000), the Bruno Kreisky Prize (2002), the Dr. Karl Renner Prize (2003), the Red Cross Humanitarian Prize (2004), and the Spin the Globe Award from Siemens (2004). In the year 2000, the organization SOS Mitmensch created the „Ute Bock Prize for Moral Courage.“