52 year-old Robert T. from Bad Fischau near Wiener Neustadt was attacked on Thursday evening and police are describing the assault as attempted murder.
Chief Inspector Leopold Etz said that police are investigating and believe that the suspects live in the same neighbourhood as the victim and have been trying to force him and his family to move out of their home in a dispute which goes back years.
Last September Robert T., who is a shift worker, was attacked by three masked men as he cycled home during the night. His neighbour’s son-in-law was arrested and charged with the attack but acquitted after three months in pre-trial custody due to a lack of evidence.
Robert T. told the Kurier newspaper that since then he has been afraid each time he has to leave home, and always takes a different route to and from work.
In the latest attack, he was driving to work at around 3.30am when he noticed a car with its hazard lights on. A young man waved him down and asked for help, saying his girlfriend was trapped in the car but when the 52-year-old went to their aid he was hit in the back of the head and passed out.
When he regained consciousness, he was lying partly submerged in an ice cold stream with his hands tied behind his back. One of his attackers leaned over him and scratched a swastika into his chest with a knife. They told him that this was revenge for their friend having to spend three months in prison.
After they had left he managed to crawl up the bank and onto the road and gained the attention of a passing truck driver who called the police and an ambulance. He was suffering from hypothermia and police said he could easily have died.
He was able to remember the type of car his attackers were driving and part of the number plate.
The attacks are darkly reminiscent of US film director Quentin Tarantino's movie Inglorious Basterds, in which a group of Jewish American soldiers punish Nazis by carving swastikas into their foreheads during World War II.
Last year the victim's house was smeared with graffiti, telling him to 'Move out'. Photo: Private