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Right-wing fraternities marching in Vienna

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Burschenschaft gathering. Photo: Burschenschaft Olympia Wien
16:15 CEST+02:00
A group of Austrian right-wing student fraternities known as the Burschenschaften will be marching in Vienna today. Several counter demonstrations are planned, and police are urging restraint.

According to a report in the Heute newspaper, 500 members of the academic Burschenschaften of the Wiener Korporationsring (WKR) have registered with police to march a planned route on Wednesday, starting at 5pm at Josephsplatz. 

The theme of their march is to celebrate the Festival of Freedom (Fest der Freiheit), and will conclude with a panel discussion at the Palais Palffy at 7pm, with the specially-formed Society for Research into the Revolution of 1848.

The Burschenschaften, while claiming to be politically neutral, have a long history of promoting a greater Germany based on language, culture, and democracy. The year 1848 is significant as a time of the March revolutions, which popularized notions of national unity, freedom, democracy and free speech in the German states, and which emphasized pan-Germanism.

A previous meeting in Vienna by the Burschenschaften, their annual Akademikerball in January, led to violence from left-wing demonstrators.  Police have announced that hundreds of additional policemen will be standing by to control any problems.

Whilst claiming neutrality, the Burschenschaften have long been linked to the FPÖ, the leader of whom, Heinz-Christian Strache, has proudly admitted his membership in the Vandalia Burschenschaften, known for its bright blue hats.  

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A series of left-wing and socialist demonstrators have registered counter-marches. Police have announced that there will be disruptions to traffic and public transport in the first district from 4:00pm, especially affecting the Vienna Ring tram, and the city buses 1A, 2A and 3A.

Police have urged all participants to exercise restraint. According to Heute, police spokesman Johann Golob has appealed to all demonstrators to refrain from violence. "We rely fully on dialogue and de-escalation, and we are in contact with all applicants," he told Heute.

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