Another day, another Nazi scandal for Austria’s co-governing Freedom Party

The far-right Freedom Party said on Friday it had expelled two local councillors for sharing Hitler photos and quotes on WhatsApp, in yet another embarrassment for Austria's junior coalition partner.

Another day, another Nazi scandal for Austria's co-governing Freedom Party
File image shows FPÖ leader Heinz-Christian Strache (left) posing with French and Italian far-right party leaders Marine Le Pen and Matteo Salvini. Photo: AFP

The two were among six people whose homes were raided by police in Suben in northwestern Austria on suspicion of breaking laws against glorifying the Nazis, reports said.

Local FPOe official Erwin Schreiner said that they were thrown out of the party and that they had been “keenly urged” to step down as councillors.

“In the FPÖ there is zero tolerance” for glorifying the Third Reich, Schreiner told the Austria Press Agency.

The FPÖ was founded by former Nazis in the 1950s but in recent years has sought to clean up its image, with party leader saying it rejects all extremism.

But since its entry into government in December, the party has been embroiled in a string of incidents that critics say show it remains a hotbed of Nazi sympathisers and racists.

In January an FPÖ candidate in a state election quit after it emerged that his student fraternity had published a songbook with lyrics joking about the Holocaust.

They included the words “Step on the gas, old Germanics, we can make it to seven million”. The Nazis killed six million Jews during World War II.

Earlier this month two FPÖ local councillors in Tyrol state were suspended after they allegedly shared a photo of Hitler on WhatsApp, the mobile phone messaging application.

And just this week the foreign ministry recalled an employee in its embassy in Israel of all places after he reportedly posted a selfie in a T-shirt bearing the name of a Nazi tank division.

An FPÖ candidate in an upcoming local election is also under fire over the athletics club he chairs flying at a 2010 event a club flag from 1923 with the word “Rassenreinheit” (“racial purity”).

Israel's government has said it will not have direct contact with FPÖ ministers, a stance mirrored by Austria's Jewish community organisation the IKG.


Austrian rapper arrested over neo-Nazi songs

Austrian authorities said Tuesday they have arrested a rapper accused of broadcasting neo-Nazi songs, one of which was used by the man behind a deadly anti-Semitic attack in Germany.

Austrian rapper arrested over neo-Nazi songs
Austrian police officers patrol at the house where Adolf Hitler was born during the anti-Nazi protest in Braunau Am Inn, Austria on April 18, 2015. Photo: JOE KLAMAR / AFP

“The suspect has been arrested on orders of the Vienna prosecutors” and transferred to prison after a search of his home, said an interior ministry statement.

Police seized a mixing desk, hard discs, weapons, a military flag from the Third Reich era and other Nazi objects during their search.

Austrian intelligence officers had been trying for months to unmask the rapper, who went by the pseudonym Mr Bond and had been posting to neo-Nazi forums since 2016.

The suspect, who comes from the southern region of Carinthia, has been detained for allegedly producing and broadcasting Nazi ideas and incitement to hatred.

“The words of his songs glorify National Socialism (Nazism) and are anti-Semitic, racist and xenophobic,” said the interior ministry statement.

One of his tracks was used as the sound track during the October 2019 attack outside a synagogue in the eastern German city of Halle.

In posts to online forums based in the United States, the rapper compared the man behind the 2019 Christchurch shootings that killed 51 people at a New Zealand mosque to a saint, and translated his racist manifesto into German.

Last September, an investigation by Austrian daily Der Standard and Germany's public broadcaster ARD said that the musician had been calling on members of neo-Nazi online forums and chat groups to carry out terrorist attacks for several years.

They also reported that his music was used as the soundtrack to the live-streamed attack in Halle, when a man shot dead two people after a failed attempt to storm the synagogue.

During his trial last year for the attack, 28-year-old Stephan Balliet said he had picked the music as a “commentary on the act”. In December, a German court jailed him for life.

“The fight against far-right extremism is our historical responsibility,” Austria's Interior Minister Karl Nehammer said Tuesday.

Promoting Nazi ideology is a criminal offence in Austria, which was the birth place of Adolph Hitler.