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Aktiv gegen Nazi-Propaganda!
Jüdische Weisheit


Ein 'Offener Brief':
Theo Bikel an Konsul Brandstetter

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Hon. Werner E. Brandstetter 
Consul General of Austria 
11859 Wilshire Blvd. / Suite 501 
Los Angeles / CA  90025

Dear Mr. Brandstetter,

I have received your invitation to attend a dinner on February 25th honoring Austrian-born artists now living in Hollywood. 
I must decline the invitation.

Even had I been free on that day, I would still have had to refuse to attend any official Austrian function, however well-meaning and cordial the invitation. The recent political developments in Austria raise alarming echoes in me, an Austrian-born Jew. Indelibly imprinted in my memory is the day in March 1938 when German troops and armored cars passed under our window on the Mariahilferstrasse. The obscene calls of Sieg Heil uttered by the welcoming Austrian throngs still ring in my ear.

The same 'loyal' Austrians in short order donned Nazi uniforms, of the same kind Jörg Haider's father wore. Of course, sons should not be saddled with the sins of fathers. There are sons of Nazis who express shame and revulsion at what their fathers had done -- far more often in Germany than in Austria -- but Jörg Haider is not one of them. Quite the contrary, he had public words of praise and approbation for the Waffen SS. The lame and half-hearted retraction of those remarks he attempted later did little to assuage the apprehensions many of us feel that Haider's Austria is in danger of sinking back into the slime of neo-fascism. 
Even the declaration distancing Austria from the 'policies of hate' signed by Haider at the demand of President Klestil seems little more than a showpiece. The ink was barely dry on the declaration when Haider declared on German TV that he had 'no intention of wandering around the world apologizing.' This leopard does not change his spots; in or out of a formal position within the Austrian government, Haider will call the shots and the prospect is frightening.

Apologists for Haider and his Freedom Party insist that their policies are not directed against Jews but only against foreigners, the influx of too many Auslandsarbeiter and alien elements in general. Those of us who bear the scars of history know better: scratch a xenophobe and you find an anti-Semite. 
Further, they say, that Europe and the world have no right to meddle in Austrian affairs, seeing that the present government was democratically elected by the people. But demagogues, too, can manipulate democracy. After all, Hitler was also elected by 'the people'; no one 'meddled' then either and it took a world war and a holocaust to end the madness once and for all. Or so we thought.

I shall withdraw the funds I still have in Vienna and shall see to it that a good portion is contributed to Jewish causes, specifically to those organizations that are devoted to the fight against racism, anti-Semitism and the violation of human rights.

In light of the foregoing I trust you will understand why I cannot lend such name or prestige as I may have to any social or official Austrian government function.

Sincerely, Theodore Bikel

February 6, 2000
haGalil onLine 10-03-2000

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