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Austrian far-right faces new Nazi songbook allegations

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Austrian far-right faces new Nazi songbook allegations
File photo from 2012 shows Austrian fraternity members gathered at Heldenplatz in Vienna to mark the anniversary of the end of World War II. Photo: AFP
16:39 CET+01:00
Austria's far-right Freedom Party (FPÖ) was hit by fresh allegations of anti-Semitism on Tuesday, just weeks after a similar scandal forced the resignation of a high-ranking party candidate.

A songbook from the FPÖ-linked Bruna Sudetia student fraternity contained similar virulently anti-Semitic song lyrics to the previous case, Falter magazine reported.

The weekly said the fraternity is chaired by Herwig Götschober, describing him as a close confidante of transport minister Norbert Hofer, who came close to being elected president in 2016.

Götschober told the magazine via a transport ministry spokesman that he had no knowledge of the songbook and "categorically" rejected its contents.

Earlier this month Udo Landbauer, lead candidate for the FPÖ in elections in Lower Austria state, resigned after similar revelations about his own student fraternity. He denied all wrongdoing.

As in that case, the latest songbook to come to light includes the lyrics: "In their midst comes the Jew Ben Gurion: 'Step on the gas, old Germanics, we can make it to seven million'."

Six million Jews were killed in the Holocaust during World War II, many of them in gas chambers at Nazi death camps. David Ben-Gurion was the first prime minister of Israel.

The latest book also contains songs by writer Hans Baumann, which were composed for Nazi youth organisations.

Other lyrics in the Bruna Sudetia book celebrate the death of Jews, allude to rules excluding Jews from joining fraternities and refer to Austria as being "separated" from Germany.

The latest revelations emerged just days after the FPÖ appointed a committee of historians to look into its own history.

However, the party said that it has no powers to compel student fraternities to participate in the inquiry as they are private organisations.

Prominent researchers have said that without looking at the influence of the fraternities, many of which have ultra-nationalist leanings and  close links to the FPÖ, the committee risks turning into a whitewashing exercise for the party's image.

The FPÖ leadership insists it rejects all forms of Nazism, anti-Semitism and racism.

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