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Jörg Haider: A Leader Who Died As He Lived

The Austrian papers are full of pictures of the suntanned politician Jörg Haider, who was a man for all seasons and who learned the lesson from American politicians to always smile and to shake hands with everybody. If one could believe some newspapers and some declarations of the Austrian political elite, a sort of Austrian Mother Teresa has passed away. The former Social Democrat Heinz Fischer, who is now President of Austria, described Haider’s death as a "human tragedy"...

by Karl Pfeifer, Z-Word Blog

One can think of many "human tragedies" that have occurred in Austria in recent times (the Fritzl case, a grandfather who raped his own daughter many times and jailed her for more than 20 years, Natasha Kampusch or the guy who murdered his family with an axe because he could not face bankruptcy).

This isn’t one of them. It is just a car accident caused by the poor driving of a politician. He died as he lived, not respecting the laws of a decent society. And it was a miracle that nobody else died in the crash.

Of course, the rumors are already spread that it was the Mossad, which made the car run at a speed of 142km per hour in a place where the maximum speed is 70 km per hour. Many Austrians love conspiracy theories because life is so much simpler if one can blame the Jews or - even better - the Jews and the Americans.

I will not quote all he said about foreigners, the Slovene minority in Carinthia and of course about the Jews and especially about those of the "east coast" - meaning in antisemitic Austrian speech "American Jews"

Haider’s parents were enthusiastic Nazis and he was educated in this spirit. He liked to speak about the Nazi past. Here are just a few examples. In regard to Wehrmacht soldiers and the Waffen SS during the 2nd WW, he said to me in January 1993, "I have said that this fight of the soldiers contributed to driving back communism, a fact that cannot be denied. This made it possible for Austria to find its place in the West and achieve democracy, otherwise we would be probably part of a communist empire, without democracy". Part of this interview was broadcast by me on Israel’s Kol Yisrael radio station.

In answer to the question of whether the German invasion of the Soviet Union was a war of conquest, Haider replied that one had to ask oneself nowadays "what it was really like then". And he answered that question himself in a public speech before veterans of the Waffen SS, in Krumpendorf in Carinthia. Members of that organization (the Waffen SS was condemned as a criminal organization at the Nuremberg Trials) were described by Haider as "decent individuals with character who stick to their beliefs despite strong opposition and remain true to them today as well. That is a good basis, my dear friends, for us younger people to inherit."

No wonder then that such Waffen SS veterans are to be present at the funeral, which will take place on Saturday or Sunday. Some of the most infamous leaders of the European extreme right like Alessandra Mussolini, Jean-Marie le Pen, Filip de Winter and Umberto Bossi will be present. This is no surprise.

If we can believe the Vienna daily "Österreich", the president of Austria, Heinz Fischer, will also come and join this illustrious crowd. After all, one could argue, Haider was Landeshauptmann (governor) of Carinthia and when the highest notables of the country come, the president cannot be absent. If I would be a cynic I could explain it with the fact that Heinz Fischer wants to be elected a second time and needs also the votes of Haider’s followers.

Even should the right extremist and Waffen SS riff-raff not come to the burial, which I do not believe, the presence of the highest representative of Austria at the funeral of Haider would be a signal: in Austria, xenophobia and antisemitism remains socially acceptable.

Category: Österrreich
Posted 10/15/08 by: admin

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