J ö rg Haider's Antisemitism

In memory of Robert Jungk, a pacificist


Haider’s antisemitism is a typical example of postwar antisemitism in the German cultural sphere. Haider, born after the war to parents who were both ardent Nazis, identifies deeply with his parents and their generation, and sees them as victims. Loyalty to one’s parents and country is his highest value, and those who do not maintain this value are considered traitors. Haider’s antisemitism is strongly connected to his view of the Holocaust, and serves as a strategy to cope with guilt feelings over the Holocaust. He is strongly influenced by German Revisionist conceptions of the Holocaust, claiming that the bombing of German cities during the war and the expulsions of Germans from Eastern Europe after the war were worse crimes than the Holocaust, and that one should compensate the Germans for their suffering just as Holocaust survivors are compensated. At the same time, he has accused several Holocaust survivors of cooperation with the Nazis and admiration of them, trying to blur differences between victims and murderers.

Jörg Haider’s antisemitism is an important case-study not only because of his personal importance in the Austrian and all-European political scene, but because it is a typical example of postwar antisemitism in the German cultural sphere. Although several prominent researchers dealt with various unique characteristics of postwar antisemitism[1] , or to be more blunt, of post-Holocaust antisemitism, this form of antisemitism, still changing and crystallizing, lacks a coherent theory, with academically accepted definitions and terminology. [2] With this paper, I therefore hope to contribute to formalizing such a theory.

     Postwar antisemitism is characterized by apologetics over the Holocaust and by attempts to justify antisemitism or to deny it, through the use of antisemitic reasoning. Haider’s antisemitism is strongly connected to his view of the Holocaust and his coping with responsibility to the Holocaust. It serves both to express the worldview imbibed by Haider from childhood, and as a strategy for coping with guilt feelings over the Holocaust.

     Haider’s coping with the Holocaust is strongly influenced by German Revisionist conceptions of the Holocaust, conceptions of a deeply relativist character.[3] The German Revisionists deny the uniqueness of the Holocaust, and claim that the history of the Second World War in general — and of the Holocaust in particular — was written from the winners’ point of view, and should be revised “within its historical context,” practically within a relativist context.

     Three relativist strategies are favored by Revisionists. First, they draw an analogy between the Holocaust and the crimes of Stalin or other Communist leaders, which they equate with Nazi crimes. Nolte, one of the most radical Revisionists, claimed that the murder of the Russian Bourgeoisie by Stalin is actually the origin of the Holocaust, which only copied Stalin’s deeds. [4]  

     A second common strategy blames the Allies for crimes identical to Nazi crimes. The most common motifs are drawing an analogy between the bombing of Dresden and Auschwitz; or the postwar expulsion of Germans from territories annexed to Poland, the Soviet Union, and the Sudetenland to the extermination of the Jews.

     The third strategy is to compare Jews to Nazis, or blaming the state of Israel for crimes allegedly similar to Nazi crimes. [5]  

     Haider frequently uses all three strategies. He said, for example — and later denied saying it — that Churchill and Stalin were the worst criminals in history. Under pressure from journalists he retracted his statement and allowed that Hitler and Stalin were the worst criminals in history, [6] but he refused to place Hitler alone in a negative light. In the Austrian National Assembly (1991), he praised Hitler for his “fair employment policy.” Following this public declaration, he was forced to resign as governor of the state of Carinthia, which led him afterwords to be much more careful in making statements about Hitler. Haider’s use of the second strategy is focused on depicting Germans as victims, and drawing an analogy between them and victims of the Nazis. In his public speeches, Haider constantly demands identical compensation to be awarded to Nazi soldiers who were Soviet prisoners of war and for Germans expelled from Sudetenland, as that given to Nazi victims.

     Haider’s use of the third strategy, comparing Jews to Nazis, is my main interest in this article. Haider’s antisemitism also is of a relativist character. He describes the Jew, and especially the Holocaust survivor, as an admirer of the Nazis, a collaborator, or acting similarly to the Nazis, and therefore having no moral right to reproach the Nazis and their admirers or collaborators, because the Jew is no better than them, and possibly worse.

     There is an inseparable connection between Haider’s relation to his own parents, and his relation to the Nazis. Haider’s parents were early members in the National-Socialist party. Robert Haider, born in 1914, joined the Hitler Jugend in 1929, when he was barely 15 years old, later becoming a Nazi party member. In 1933, shortly after the party was outlawed in Austria, he was arrested, but escaped to Bavaria, where he joined the “Austrian Ligue” of the SA. On July 25, 1934, the Nazis tried to take over the Austrian government, but failed. A day later, on July 26, Robert Haider and his friends, at their commander’s order, crossed the Austrian border, but without knowing that the Putsch had failed. They attacked a tollhouse and killed an inspector, then fled back to Bavaria. Robert Haider served two years in the German army, joined the German Nazi Party, and lived in Munich. After the Anschluss, he moved to Linz, where he served as a Gaujugendwalter (regional youth governor) of the Deutschen Arbeitsfront (German Work Front). There he met his future wife, Dorothea Rupp, also a member of the Nazi Party and leader of the women’s organization die Bannmädchen . Dorothea was the daughter of Karl Rupp, a famous gynecologist, and Hermine (née Webhofer), from a wealthy family of businessmen from South Tyrol. One of her mother’s brothers took over the Bärental estate, whose former owners, the Jewish Roifer family, had been forced to sell it. The uncle’s childless son left it as a legacy for Jörg Haider. During the war, Robert Haider served on various fronts, was wounded several times, and was decorated with the Iron Cross. When released from the army, he had reached the rank of lieutenant. Robert and Dorothea were married on 1945. [7]  

     After the war, Haider’s parents lost their apartment in Linz and had to go back to Robert Haider’s home village of Bad Goisern in Salzkammergut. Together with other low-ranking Nazi functionaries, Robert Haider was imprisoned in the camp of Glasenbach, where he and other prisoners were forced to remove heaps of corpses of the forced laborers from the Ebensee camp, who had died while digging tunnels for the Nazis. Haider’s mother, a teacher by profession, was not allowed to teach, and had to take work in cleaning. Unlike many Austrians, who hid their Nazi past after the defeat, Haider’s parents refused to deny their former beliefs—a fact that takes a central place in Haider’s thought. However, in order to continue their lives in the Second Austrian Republic—which under Allied pressure adopted strict anti-Nazi legislation—the Haiders, like other “Alte Kameraden,” adopted a coded language in which forbidden terms are simply replaced by another. The use of such coded language, typical of former Nazis and radical Right circles is very common with Haider. For example, he rarely uses the words “Jew” or “Jews,” enabling him to play the innocent and later deny the exact content of what he is quoted as saying, yet the underlying message intended for his sympathisers is quite clear to them.

     Haider grew up in circles that perceived Nazi and other radical Right groups, as well as German society as a whole, as postwar victims of attack and discrimination, especially in comparison to Jews, but also to Socialists or other rivals of the radical Right. This conception   fits the relativist attitude of these circles to the Holocaust, seeing themselves as victims and not aggressors, as suffering harsh injustice at the hands of the Communists, the Allies, and even the Jews, whose crimes toward them were allegedly worse than their own. (One should not forget that in these circles Americans, as well as Communists, are identified with Jews). Haider’s thinking was shaped by stories of his parents’ suffering after the war, when his father was imprisoned in Glasenbach, which Haider’s mother, in an interview to the Austrian weekly Profil (23 May 1995) referred to as “dieses KZ —this concentration camp. His mother worked as a cleaner in a refugee children’s home, where, as she told her friends, she was so humiliated: Jewish women, suffering from tuberculosis, spat their phlegm right before her legs and called her a “Nazi sow.” Thus, Haider maintains a sense of suffering with no concommitant sense of guilt.

     In an interview for Die Zeit (26 Feb. 2000), when asked about his coping with the past, Haider replied: “when the parents themselves were involved in National Socialism, they hardly discussed this period, also because of their own guilt feelings.” When asked why he did not want, like others of the ‘68 generation, to confront his parents consciously, he answered: “I have experienced a very nice childhood and I have a very positive relation towards my parents. Therefore I felt always the tension: on one side stood my parents, whom I did not want to hurt, because they suffered enough and also paid for that, for what they had to be responsible in National Socialism. On the other side were the fanatics of the ‘68 generation, who said, completely convinced of their rightness: we would have done everything a lot better.” [8] It is absolutely clear where Haider’s heart is found.

     The self-conception of being part of a group under attack and suffering discrimination, typical of Haider and his ideological environment, is focused on loyalty to beliefs and to the group. Haider counts loyalty as the most characteristic feature of Nazi soldiers, and also their most important heritage. At one of the annual conferences of Waffen-SS veterans, held in Krumpendorf in Carinthia on September 30, 1995, Haider aroused a scandal in Austria when his words were published:

That even on these rainy days, when there are still honest people, people of character, who even when the wind blows hard, stick by their faith and stay loyal up to this very day. And this is the foundation, my dear friends, which has also been passed on to us, the younger generation. And a nation, which does not respect its fathers, is anyway doomed to perish. [9]  

Haider thus links respect for parents with a positive attitude toward the Nazis, which undermines the perception of the Holocaust as the worst crime ever. Haider strongly resists seeing the Nazis as criminals, and he is extremely critical of common attitudes toward his parents’generation, namely the Nazi generation. In response to the debate over pensions paid to SS veterans, he declared, at a December 1995 Vienna conference of his supporters that: “one hurts the veterans’ pensions and label them as criminals.” More recently, at the Waffen-SS veterans’ conference in Ulrichsberg on October 2000, Haider said:

It cannot be that the history of our fathers and grandfathers, because of a strange Zeitgeist, would become little more than a Mug Book, and their achievements trodden underfoot by history. [10]  

     A speech by Haider has become a tradition at the Waffen-SS veterans’ annual conference. One of Haider’s political rivals is Hans-Henning Scharsach, publisher of the weekly News, who has published several books about him. In reaction to Peter Sichrovsky’s claim that Haider is not an antisemite, Scharsach wrote in Die Presse (17 March 1999):

Haider not at all an antisemite? Not once did the leader of the Freedom Party wish to take part at ceremonies in memory of Nazi victims during the memorial year 1988. On the other hand, he takes part in ceremonies of the Waffen-SS that once served in the death camps. In confrontation with the past Haider never stood by the side of the victims. He stood by side of the perpetrators.

     In another speech before the Waffen-SS veterans, on October 7, 1990 in Ulrichsberg, Haider declared: “Finally, finally one must be relieved from the impression which false history writing tries consistently to arouse, as if there is something like collective guilt of the soldiers.There is no collective guilt!” [11] In his analysis of this speech, Klaus Ottomeyer points out that it is not that historians claim there is a collective guilt, but rather, Haider is using the alleged claim of collective guilt to promote the idea of a “collective lack of guilt” (kollektive Unschuld). Ottomeyer quotes Haider further: “Our soldiers were not criminals. At best they were victims.… This generation of soldiers truly returned to his homeland loyalty, bravery and love…. This generation of soldiers has nothing to blame itself for.” In order to leave no room for doubt, Haider sealed his speech with the words: “and maybe this is also the time, to make it clear here, that in the future also the younger generation, and those who take responsibility in Europe, would be well advised, not to draw a line between good and bad soldiers of the older generation.”[12]  

     One can ascertain just how radical Haider’s position is by comparing his words to allegedly similar expressions by Alfred Dregger, from the right wing of the German Christian Democratic Party, in a Bundestag debate on the “Wehrmacht Crimes” exhibit displayed in several German cities in 1997, which aroused harsh reactions. Dregger, who himself fought in the Wehrmacht, argued:

Soldiers were always the victims of war. Critical resolutions were not taken by soldiers, but by the great lords of war, who alone had the political power and the commanding authority. The majority of the German soldiers, who risked their body and life for their country and had to suffer an endless misery, can say with justice that they themselves would not take part in Hitler’s war crimes, and also would not become guilty of other war crimes—“the majority,” this is not valid for everyone. [13]  

     Haider himself, however, would never say that the Nazi soldiers would not take part willingly in Hitler’s war crimes, for the term “Hitler’s war crimes” does not exist in his vocabulary. Rather, he emphasizes only the soldiers’ complete loyalty to their homeland, and refuses to draw any line between decent and criminal soldiers—not even between a majority of “forced perpetrators” to a minority of real criminals, as Dregger did.

     Haider’s relationship to his parent’s generation explains why he never denies the Holocaust, and strongly resists the oft-repeated claim that Austria was “the first Nazi victim.” For Haider, the Nazis were not criminals but patriotic soldiers, and so there is no reason to deny their deeds. One should not be ashamed of them but proud, just as the English are proud of Churchill—even though for Haider, Churchill is one of the worst criminals in history, who sent British pilots who bombed German cities, which Haider considers a crime worse than the Holocaust, or at least an equivalent crime.

     A second reason that Haider does not deny the Holocaust is his conception of the Austrians as an integral part of the German people, and by no means a separate national entity. In a TV interview on August 18, 1988, Haider declared:

You know just as well as I do, that the Austrian nation is a miscarriage, an ideological miscarriage, because national affiliation is one thing, and state affiliation is another thing, and when one is allowed to declare himself a Slovenian Austrian, a Hungarian or a Croat Austrian, it must be possible also to declare oneself a German Austrian, and that is also what our platform states.[14]  

     The claim that Austria as an independent nation is a miscarriage appeared in Hitler’s Mein Kampf. Haider’s definition of nationality is not based on place of birth and passport. Here, he departs from the Austrian tradition based on Roman law which (unlike German law) recognizes the jus solis—and grants citizenship to anyone born on its soil. In the past, Haider supported unification of Austria with Germany, but backed off from this position because it was very unpopular in Austria. In an interview with Die neue Gesellschaft Frankfurter Hefte (22 May 1995), Haider expanded on his thinking:

The concept of the Austrian nation was the lifelong lie of the Second Republic…because people believed that by saying: “We are an Austrian nation, we have our own teaching-language, we have nothing more to do with the German history,” they could also escape the common responsibility for National Socialism. My position has always been: “We are not only victims, we were also perpetrators.” Some people did not want to admit that, neither in my party, nor among the Social Democrats. [15]  

     When we compare this to Haider’s 1990 speech in Ulrichsberg, we realize that this apparent willingness to admit to the crimes of the Austrian Nazis does not, in fact, result from acknowledgement of the severity of their crimes, but rather from the idea that the Nazis were not criminals, and bear no blame.

     Haider’s relativist views and his refusal to feel guilt for the murder of Jews make it impossible for him to apologize for the Holocaust. In the abovementioned interview in Die Zeit (26 Feb. 2000), Haider was asked if Austria should not beg forgiveness for its part in the Holocaust. He replied: “Ich halte mehr vom Ausbau humanitärer Beziehungen zu Israel” (I see more importance in developing humanitarian relation with Israel), such as compensation for forced laborers, and student educational exchanges. [16] Yet we know that Haider has always resisted compensation for Holocaust survivors. For example, in the June 1995 parliamentary debate over compensation payments to Nazi victims who had been Austrian citizens between 1938 and 1945 and did not return to Austria, Haider initially opposed the initiative, meant to compensate the majority of the persecuted Jews who had not returned to Austria. Haider argued that Austrian citizens’ money should not be transferred abroad, namely to Israel and the United States (where the majority of Austrian Holocaust survivors live today). Later he demanded that Austrian civilians and prisoners of war, who fled the area conquered by the Allies, should also receive the same compensation. On February 6, 2000, Haider declared in an interview on German television that Germans expelled from the Sudetenland were entitled to compensation identical to that paid for Austrian Jews who were Nazi victims.

     During the election campaign for the city and province of Vienna on March 25, 2001, Haider repeated, at a meeting of Sudetenland Germans, his demand for compensation for Austrian prisoners of war and the Germans expelled from Sudetenland, as for Jewish Nazi victims whom he termed “emigrants.” [17]  

     At his party’s celebration of the New Year 2001, Haider attacked an agreement which the Austrian government had signed to pay compensation of 500 million dollars for Jewish property confiscated by the Nazis. Haider said that Chancellor Schüssel hoped in vain to receive “den ungeteilten Applaus der US-Ostküste” (the complete applause of the American East Coast). “American East Coast” is a very common code in German rightist speech for American Jews. [18] Haider used the “East Coast” idiom a number of times in the Viennese election campaign, refering also to the well-known election campaign advisor Stanley Greenberg, an American Jew hired by Vienna’s incumbent Socialist mayor, Michael Haupl. “The vote is between a spin doctor, Greenberg from the East Coast, and a true Viennese heart,” Haider said. Thus we trace the “us-vs.-them” dichotomy, they, the Jews; we the true Austrians. [19]  

     In the abovementioned June 1995 debate on compensation to Nazi victims, Haider agreed, under pressure, to support the offer to compensate only Nazi victims, saying, “We will not vote against the law—we want to stretch a line over a chapter for which we are responsible.” At the New Year 2001 gathering, Haider also said that his party acknowledged the need to resolve the problem of compensation, but “einmal muss Schluss sein” (at some point there should be an end); repeating the idea that “one should draw a final line.”

     The idea of leaving the past behind is very common in German society. Like other Revisionists, Haider often states a need to turn away from the past and concentrate on the future. Interviewed in Die Zeit (Nr. 6, 2000), the following exchange took place:

Haider: I believe that we should concentrate ourselves more on the future, in order to prevent these things from happenning again.

Die Zeit: How can one learn a lesson for the future, if one does not at the same time relate to the past?

Haider: Sooner or later one must break off with the past. I have even heard Gerhard Schröder (the present German Chancellor) saying: Now it is enough, now we shall turn to the future. And Schröder is after all a Socialist.… [20]  

It was Ernst Nolte who entitled his 1986 article “Eine Vergangenheit, die vergehen nicht will” (A past that will not pass away), which became the slogan of the Revisionists, whose motto is the “Historicisation of the Nazi past.” The real difficulty of the Revisionists, and not only them, is, of course, discussing guilt, not the past per se. They have no difficulty, as we have seen, in discussing German suffering. Haider was correct in his statement that not only conservatives and Revisionists express such views and feelings. Chancellor Schröder himself, soon after coming into office, refused to attend a ceremony in France to commemorate the end of the war, explaining that he preferred to concentrate on the future, and the famous writer Martin Walser, on receiving the 1998 Peace Prize of the German editors, demanded that Auschwitz should no longer be used as a “Moral Keule” (moral cudgel). He added that when movies about the Holocaust were being screened, he preferred to look away. [21]  

     Although unwillingness to deal with the past is common to many in German society, there is still a sharp difference between those like Chancellor Schröder, who recognize the uniqueness of Nazi crimes, and Haider, who relativises them. While others meant less discussion of German guilt, Haider connected the desire to “leave the past behind” directly and explicitely to the question of compensation to Nazi victims, which he demanded to stop, or at least to counterbalance by providing identical compensation to expelled Germans and Nazi prisoners of war.

     Haider has also criticized the request by the Viennese Jewish community to regain former Jewish assets confiscated by the Nazis, in order to help pay community debts. At an Ash-Wednesday meeting of Haider’s adherents, he attacked Ariel Muzikant, head of the Vienna Jewish community and a prominent opponent of Haider and his party, saying that he cannot understand how someone carrying the name “Ariel” (the name of a cleaning products firm), “could catch so much filth” (Ich verstehe ueberhaupt nicht, wie einer, der Ariel heist, so viel Dreck am Stecken haben kann). [22] Here he is clearly suggesting two common antisemitic images—that of “Jewish monkey-business,” and “dirty Jews.” These examples should make us very cautious when hearing Haider and other Freedom Party members make positive declarations toward Israel, which tend to be strongly instrumental in hopes of receiving legitimization or worse, in order to manipulate Israel against American Jewish organizations or Austrian Jewish leaders like Muzikant, who oppose Haider.

     Indeed, Israel has a certain appeal to Haider and those around him: Andreas Mölzer, the Freedom Party ideologist, in a special article on the occasion of Chancellor Vranitzky’s visit to Israel in 1993, [23] noted three links binding Austria and Israel: First, the “founding father of Israel,” Theodor Herzl, a journalist for the Viennese Neue Freie Presse and member of the “Albia” student organization, was strongly influenced by German national ideas. Second, Austrian antisemitism served as a trigger for the founding of Israel (an argument this author finds extremely cynical). Third, the “terror and sufferings between 1938 and 1945, the fate of those Austrians, who were victims of the detestable racial madness,”[24] provides another moral historic link. But Mölzer has no intention of basing Austrian-Israeli relations on guilt feelings or special obligations. On the contrary: he claimed that Austria had already paid a lot (p. 89): “Die Nachgeborene Generationen von Oesterreichern…die weitestgehend zweifellos in die Verantwortung genommen werden koennen, das historische Leid nicht zu vergessen, die aber keineswegs Kollektivschuldner im Sinne von ausstehenden Zahlungen sein koennen” (future generations of Austrians can undoubtedly be considered responsible at most not to forget the historical suffering, but by no means can they be considered responsible for continuing payments). According to Mölzer, Austria is obliged to the Nazi victims during their lifetimes, but “Eine Schuld ueber generationen hinweg kann es jedoch nicht geben” (there can be no guilt extending over the generations; p. 94). Here, like with Haider, we see that “drawing a line on the past” relates to compensation, a very problematic line of argument when we take into account that only recently, more than fifty years after the war, did Austria acknowledge a duty to compensate the Nazi victims. Until now, only a small percentage of Austrian Jews, received relatively small amounts of compensation.

     Mölzer criticized Vranitzky for refusing to acknowledge the right of Palestinians for their own state, and called for normalizing relations with Israel, which means, as he put it “that it must be also possible to dislike personally another citizen or another person of Jewish origin, and it must be also possible to criticize the state of Israel and its policies, without being blamed for antisemitism.” [25] Haider too, reproached by Israel, said angrily that Israel should learn from Austria how to treat its neighbors—instead of criticizing Haider.

Three images from Haider’s antisemitic worldview

I would like now to introduce to the reader three characters from Haider’s world: the “pretend Holocaust survivor,” who is, in fact, no better (or even worse) than the Nazis; the “honest Jew,” who tells the truth about the Jews—i.e., a truth identical with the common opinions about Jews found in Haider’s circle; and the “treacherous Austrian,” who cooperates with his Jewish friends against Austria.

The “Pretend Holocaust Survivor”

Describing Holocaust survivors as morally equivalent to Nazis, is a radical use of Jews as scapegoats, and therefore a radical form of antisemitism: not only is the most horrible crime of German society, Nazism, projected on another, but it is also projected on the victim, and in this way a complete blurring, or even exchange, of perpetrator and victim is created, so that the guilt is not only rejected but totally erased.

     My first example of Haider’s use of the “pretend Holocaust survivor” is from August 1997, when the “Swiss gold” issue was debated. Haider, first in a TV discussion and later in an interview for the Austrian weekly Profil (32/97, 3 Aug. 1997), referred to the late Ignaz Bubis, then head of the German Jewish community:

Haider: I do not know if Mr. Bubis has a real interest in having the issue of the Swiss Gold discussed so extensively.

Profil: what blame do you put on Mr. Bubis?

Haider: I say it is absolutely possible that various circles [a typical far Right code term for Jews] do not at all want to have the Swiss gold handling fully discussed, because it might be concluded that even Mr. Bubis may have smuggled gold from Switzerland to Germany, taken from his “former friends” [i.e., murdered Jews], to start his fortune. Bubis should have explained this part of his biography in public. [26]  

Haider was making use of rumours that Bubis made his fortune by smuggling gold into Germany after the war—certainly not during the war. But Haider’s statement blurred the timing, suggesting that Bubis smuggled Nazi gold during the war, and thus Haider created an analogy between a known Holocaust survivor and the Swiss who collaborated with the Nazis. He is suggesting that not only Switzerland smuggled gold taken from murdered Jews back into Germany, but Jews like Bubis also did it; both the Swiss and Jews like Bubis made their fortune from assets of the murdered Jews. Not only Switzerland collaborated with the Nazis, but Jews did so as well. The Jew turns from passive victim to collaborator with the Nazis, and carrying part of the blame, and therefore, Haider is saying that Jews should not blame the Swiss, since the Jews are no better.

     Haider is clearly drawing on the classic Christian image of Judas who betrayed Christ and sold his life for thirty pieces of silver. There is also a blackmailing tone: it is not in your own interest, Mr. Bubis, to go too deep into affairs from the Nazi past, because you yourself may be hurt by such inquiries.

     Haider typically picked on Bubis, a prominent participant in the German public debate concerning the Holocaust, who was something of a red rag for the German radical Right. Franz Schönhuber, the head of the extreme right Republican party, accused Bubis of “racial instigation” after the March 1994 attack on the Lübeck Synagogue. Schönhuber said that Bubis himself was the cause for German antisemitism.

     Note that in the above Haider quote, he did not mention the word “Jews,” but used the code terms verschidene Kreisen (various circles), and then seine fruehere Freunden (his [Bubis’s] former friends). The first idiom refers to Jews today, and the second to Jews murdered in the Holocaust.

     Haider’s accusations did not arouse a scandal primarily because Bubis chose to ignore them. Something quite different occurred when Haider attacked Robert Jungk, another Jewish Holocaust survivor.

     Jungk, a pacifist writer and stubborn opponent of nuclear weapons, was running for the Austrian presidency as the Greens Party candidate in the 1992 elections. The elections took place on April 26, and Thomas Klestil, the candidate of the People’s Party, was elected. Jungk’s candidacy was only symbolic, and represented an act of protest against the Austrian public’s move to the Right.

     Jungk was born in Berlin in 1913 and escaped to France in March 1933 after the Nazis came to power. In late 1935 he returned secretly to Germany, was involved there in underground activity, and had to flee again in November 1936, this time to Czechoslovakia, his father’s homeland. Jungk lived in Prague until the Nazi annexation of Austria, and then went to Switzerland. In his autobiography, he describes Switzerland as “a prison with a view.” [27] Although not permitted to work, even as a journalist, he did so under several pseudonyms, the most popular of which was F.L. (abbreviation for Fluchtling , German for refugee). He published articles against the Nazi regime in the Zürich weekly Weltwoche. In June 1943, Jungk was arrested by the Swiss foreigners police, accused of violating the work prohibition and they threatened to hand him over to the Germans which meant certain death. Fortunately, some influential acquaintances intervened, and he was not deported to Germany, but went to prison for a few months. Later, he cooperated with American intelligence through the American embassy in Bern. In 1957, Jungk settled in Austria. The leaders of the Green party chose him as a protest candidate explicitly because he was a Jew who had fled Germany and chose to settle in Austria after the war.

     In a television program on April 5, 1992, just three weeks before the vote, Haider accused Jungk of having published a 1942 article which Haider called a “Jubelbroschüre” (hymn) for the Third Reich. As he did a few years later in the case of Bubis, Haider tried to portray a Jewish Holocaust survivor as an admirer or even collaborator with the Nazis, blurring differences between victims and murderers.

     The circumstances surrounding Haider’s attack on Jungk are significant as well. In the TV interview Haider was asked about a statement made in 1990 by Andreas Mölzer, the Freedom Party’s ideologist and presently Carinthia’s culture advisor. [28] In Kärtner Nachrichten Mölzer declared “Wer die Umvolkung der oesterreicher betreibt, nur um den deutschen Character des Landes zu tilgen, muss sich den Vorwurf des antigermanischen Rassismus gefallen lassen” (He who perpetrates Umvolkung, namely, transfers or eliminates Austrians in order to resettle other people, solely in order to erase the German character of the country, must bear the accusation of anti-German racism.)

     Umvolkung was used in the Enlightenment period as a synonym for Germanisierung —Germanizing the non-Germans in the Habsburg Empire. Later, the Nazis imbued this term with a racial meaning: it was used to describe the mixture of German residents with others, especially in Eastern Europe. It was used “scientifically” by Albert Brackmann, head of   the Nord und Ostdeutschen Forschungsgemeinschaft (NOFG, the North and East German research community) in Nazi projects to Germanize Eastern Europe. Proposed projects included the transfer and extermination of Jewish residents in order to replace them with Germans, or with Germanized people. In practical terms, it became an additional term for the extermination of Jews.

     Mölzer used the term to describe absorption of non-German immigrants in Austria, drawing an analogy between the liberal immigration policy in present day Austria and the Nazi policies toward their victims, as if the absorption of immigrants means removing German Austrians in order to make room for non-Germans. This is another example of the relativisation of the Holocaust in Haider’s closest ideological circle, not only in order to avoid responsibility for Nazi crimes, but also in order to justify present xenophobic policies. The term Umvolkung is sometimes used in radical Right circles as a synonym for another Nazi term—Überfremdung—which means massive settlement of non-Germans in a German area. The Viennese branch of the Freedom Party, led by Hilmar Kabas, used it in a 1999 election campaign slogan “Stopp der Überfremdung!” (Stop the over-flow of strangers—a phrase originally used by Nazi propaganda minister Goebbels). Haider later denied responsibility for the slogan, but his denial is hardly acceptable. Here we must emphasize that the Freedom Party ascribes the term Fremden (strangers) not only to non-citizens, but also to citizens of non-German origin. [29] Also the term Ausländer (foreigner) is rarely used for Western Europeans, but is widely used in Austria as a mild term to describe residents of African, Asiatic, or Eastern European (especially Slavic) origin.

     In Haider’s TV press conference on April 5, 1992, Herbert Lackner, editor of the weekly Profil, asked Haider if he would also use this Umvolkung terminology. [30] Haider answered that this has to do with the Recht auf Heimat (right of one’s homeland, i.e., the right of the “real Austrians,” those of German origin, to keep their land for themselves), and that one should first solve Austria’s own social problems before allowing immigration in a large scale. Haider continued: “and if one is so excited over Mölzer, then please deal also with Robert Jungk.”

     Haider held up to the camera the book Deutschland von aussen, Beobachtungen eines illegalen Zeitzeugen (Germany from the outside, observations of an illegal witness) (Munich; Wilhelm Heyne Verlag, 1990), a selection of Jungk’s articles from 1941–1942 and the postwar period (1945–1946), which had appeared in the Swiss weekly Weltwoche.

     Haider selected a few quotes from Jungk’s article “Auswirkungen des totalen Krieges in Deutschland” (the effects of total war in Germany), originally published on January 9, 1942.

     This article showed that in spite of all the means taken by Nazi regime to prevent disease, as a result of the war the rate of infectious diseases in Germany and at the front rose dramatically. Haider read a few sentences from the first part of the article: “The very progressive government of the Third Reich from the national-biological aspect (volksbiologisch) …” Haider stopped to remark: “So he marks the government of the Third Reich from the distance of Switzerland as a very progressive government from the national biological aspect.” Haider continued reading from the article: “took much more effective means than the Imperial government to prevent such a collapse of civil population.” Haider again paused and said: “He [Jungk] said: Hygiene, social protection.” Haider continued reading from another place in the text: “Shortly, one can say that the health control in the civil population like in the army stood on high level never reached before.”

     Then Haider concluded: “Also, a Jubelbroschüre fürs dritte Reich vom Herrn Jungk, Präsidentschaftskandidat einer Partei, die immer so tut, als wäre sie jenseits des Verdachtes, irgendwelche faschistoide züge zu haben.” (So, a hymn for the Third Reich by Mr. Jungk, presidential candidate of a party which always pretends to be beyond any suspicion, of having Fascistoide characteristics.)

     One of the journalists remarked that one should read also what was written before and after the quotations taken by Haider from the text. Haider answered that one can do this always, and it would be very interesting: “Ich haue den nicht in die Pfanne, wenn das nicht stimmen würde, nicht? Und das ist halt so!” (I would not beat him down, was it not right, no? And it is simply so!)

     And Haider continued: “And I believe, that this is what should be discussed. Can it only be incriminated when a member of the Freedom Party says something, if he says once something stupid, so please, let him explain himself, and this also Robert Jungk must get—he must explain himself about these texts!” At that moment one of the participants asked if Jungk might not take Mölzer’s place, if he did write such things, and Haider answered: “Yes, if he takes back what praises he had written, then he would be acceptable for me, because Mölzer has never written things like that.”

     In the background to this incident was the Haider’s forced resignation a few months previously from the Charintian governorship because he had said that “Hitler had a fair employment policy.” Haider thus attempted to create an analogy between his own praise of Hitler with what Jungk had said in 1942 in his anti-Nazi writings.

     Haider repeated his slander on April 8, saying that it is too bad that Jungk, in exile in Switzerland in the early 1940s, was courting a totalitarian regime—from a safe distance.

     Jungk sued Haider for slander and the court in Klagenfurt ordered Haider to apologize for his accusations before the elections and on television. Haider claimed that the ruling “creates two classes of citizens” (zwei Klassen von Bürgern schafft). He named Jungk “a privileged person” in a “two-class state,” who had the “Journalistenmeute” (a pack of hunting dog journalists) on his side. Haider as well as his Austrian audience were fully aware that Haider’s remarks were a reference to Jungk’s Jewishness. Even though there were no overt antisemitic remarks and Jungk’s Jewishness was not the issue, we are dealing here with a typical antisemitic discourse, which uses the common stereotypes of “privileged Jews”[31] and “Jewish control of the press.” [32] In a typical form of postwar antisemitism, Haider combined classical antisemitic streotypes with an accusation that the claimant to be a Holocaust survivor [i.e., one with a moral claim against the German people] was actually an adherent of Hitler. In postwar antisemitism the Jew still carries all the traditional blame, and in addition, is also depicted as a Nazi.

     In further attacks Haider called Jungk an opportunist who always adapted himself to the situation (eine angepaste Persoenlichkeit, die sich immer gerichtet hat), and therefore unfit for the presidency, because “a weather vane cannot stand at the head of the state, where one must sometimes be weatherproof” (eine Fahne im Wind sollte nicht an der Spitze des Staates stehen, wo man manchmal auch wetterfest sein muss). Note the wind motif often used by Haider: the Jew Robert Jungk was described as a weather vane that changes direction, whereas the SS veterans whom Haider addressed in Krumpendorf on 1995, stuck to their belief “auch bei groesstem Gegenwind”—even in the strongest opposing wind. Unfortunately, the clearly antisemitic identification of Germans with stability and loyalty, and Jews with instability and detachment, remained unnoticed.

     Haider obtained a warrant that allowed him to postpone his public apology. Only after further judicial proceedings was he forced by Austria’s High Court of Justice to take back his slander of Jungk in a television transmission financed by the Freedom Party. [33]  

     The wide appeal in Austria for accusations that a Jewish Holocaust survivor might have had some appreciation for the Nazis was soon to be shown: Haider’s attack on Jungk was followed by a similar attack by Richard Nimmerrichter, known as “Staberl,” a columnist in Austria’s most widely-read daily, Die Neue Kronen Zeitung—a traditional supporter of Haider and no minor contributor to his political success. In his column of April 10, 1992, five days after Haider’s first TV attack on Jungk, Staberl also provided some quotes from articles Jungk had written in 1941 and 1942. Like Haider, Staberl referred to them as “Jubelmeldungen” (praises) for Hitler’s war machine. Nimmerrichter chose to open with one of Jungk’s most witty and farsighted articles, “Vorbereitungen für den vierten Kriegswinter” (Preparations for the fourth winter of war) in Deutschland von Aussen (pp. 228–33). In this article Jungk ridiculed the Nazis’ pretensions of being able to overcome natural forces. Jungk wrote:

Their newspapers ridiculed ‘General Winter.’ They thought that in a time of technological progress there are no especially unfavourable seasons for war, just as there are no islands. The facts have shown since, that the Germans indeed gave too little attention to such natural barriers. Because if, following Hitler’s words, there were really no more islands, England could hardly resist the German attack, and if there was no more winter, the German army command would probably be sitting today in Moscow. (p. 229)

But, as Jungk put it further (p. 231): “Also the German war commanders, as long as the war went on, had to acknowledge, that even they can cook only with water,” and he wrote of the growing doubts in German society, and a recent resolution published in all German newspapers that severe punishments would be meted out to anyone who helped soldiers declare themselves unfit for service in deceitful ways—a public resolution that should be taken more seriously than the German propaganda that spoke of the unshattered will to fight.

     Nimmerrichter found in Jungk’s article completely different things, and thus he asked in his Neue Kronen Zeitung column: “Who wrote these jubilant announcements about Hitler’s grand preparations for his fourth winter of war? Maybe an enthusiastic youngster from Hitler Youth? A member in the notorious ‘Propaganda companies’ of Hitler’s army? Not at all! The phrasing came from the pen of Weltwoche correspondent at the time, Robert Jungk, who later became not only the democratic ‘future researcher,’ but furthermore, an Austrian presidential candidate!” [34]  

     Nimmerrichter also quoted from a Jungk article of December 1941, in which he referred to an article published in the Schwarze Korps, the SS bulletin, in which the writer had made a remark about a letter from a 17-year-old apprentice who had criticized his chief: “The German youth learnt in his organizations to deal with his old-fashioned ‘bourgeois’ chiefs in such a naughty way.” [35] This sentence made Nimmerrichter especially furious: “Was Hitler’s Germany at all a dictatorship, where no criticism was allowed?… Where has Jungk this information from, I do not know. I know only, that I had too in those days to belong to this ‘German Youth,’ and that if I ‘dealt with my chiefs in such a naughty way’ they would immediately cut my head off.” [36] For Nimmerrichter as for Haider’s parents, it is crucial to paint a picture in which he was the victim, suffered under Hitler’s dictatorship, was forced to belong to the Hitler Jugend—his life was in danger, not the Jew’s. And Nimmerrichter concluded his article with: “Embarrassed silence would do good with Mr. Jungk. But no! He pretends to be a Nazi victim—and a presidential candidate!” [37]  

     Peter Stephan Jungk, Robert’s son, wrote later about the days after Haider’s attack on his father: [38]  

In spite of all the help, in the weeks left before the election, Robert Jungk had had to defend himself much too often against this hitting below the belt—and a slight feeling of inconvenience was left within the public. I never saw my father so exhausted, breathless, deadly pale, as in those April days of 1992. He could not get it, what an Austrian top politician has done to him.

   ‘Maybe Jungk had after all some dirty business with the Nazis?’ I heard ordinary passengers, unknown to me, whispering to each other on Kärtner street [Vienna’s central avenue]. When I turned to them and asked them for explanation, they apologized, smiling, embarrassed…

   My father, who had been persecuted because of racial and political motives, who from 1933, when he left Germany the first time to avoid the threat of being arrested, persistently wrote against the Nazis, was made overnight into a Nazi adherent. More than that—the owner of the Aryanized Bärental estate, has succeeded in showing to the Austrian public in the most twisted way, that the Greens candidate was in fact a dubious person of Jewish origin.”

     I slightly disagree with Peter Stephan Jungk: Haider did not have to try too hard to fool the Austrian public. His audience was eager to hear that the real Nazi is the Jewish Holocaust survivor.

The “Honest Jew”

In the antisemitic society the “honest Jew” plays the part that Jewish converts once played in the middle ages: enjoying the credibility of an “expert” on Judaism, the “honest Jew” serves to confirm the common antisemitic ideas, supposedly from an “objective” point of view, since a Jew, it is believed, cannot be antisemite. [39]  

     The model Austrian “honest Jew” was the Socialist Chancellor during the 1970s, Bruno Kreisky, whose Jewishness allowed him to express antisemitic statements about Israeli, American, and Austrian Jews—and especially against Simon Wiesenthal. Wiesenthal had accused Friedrich Peter, founder and head of the Freedom Party and a political ally of Kreisky, of having served in an SS unit which had committed fearful war crimes. [40] Kreisky’s attack on Wiesenthal made him the darling of the right wing which supported Peter. [41]  

     Not surprisingly, therefore, Haider points to Kreisky as his model. For example, in the abovementioned interview in Die Neue Gesellschaft Frankfurter Hefte (1995/7, p. 631), regarding the question of Haider’s intention to make from the Freedom Party “a movement” (Bewegung), Haider said: “what Jörg Haider does, is no different than what Bruno Kreisky has done from 1966 to 1970…. He has even succeeded in pointing out Simon Wiesenthal as ‘Mafia,’ or as an agent of a ‘private feudal court’.” By comparing himself to Kreisky, Haider sought to achieve two goals: first, to legitimize his actions and resist accusations of similarity between his party and the Nazis. If Haider is like the Jew Kreisky, he cannot be blamed for having Nazi ideas. Second, the repeated Kreisky’s charge against Wiesenthal (and implicitly of all those who blamed the Freedom Party for Nazi ideas) as a “Mafia”, without being accused of antisemitism since he only quoted the Jew Kreisky.

     Since 1996 the role of “honest Jew” for Haider’s Freedom Party is taken by Peter Sichrovsky. This well-known Jewish writer (and member of the Freedom Party since 1996) represented the party in the European Parliament. After the party entered the coalition, Sichrovsky was elected a second party general secretary. His informal role is to express the Freedom Party’s problematic positions in Jewish issues, so that it would be harder to blame the party for antisemitism when the statements come from the mouth of a Jewish member.

     One example is an interview with Sichrovsky in the Austrian weekly Format (19/2000). He attacked the World Jewish Congress and lawyer Ed Fagan, who sued Austria for former Jewish property that had been confiscated by the Nazis. Sichrovsky claimed that he had never met anyone who had received even a schilling from the millions paid in the last few years. “Where is all the money?” he asked, “Who enriched himself at the expense of the victims? What is going on in the heads of those who use the murder of millions in order to position themselves on the political world stage, to press democratically elected governments, to threaten them with blackmail, as the World Jewish Congress has done in the past?” [42]  

     Sichrovsky, as a Jew, allows himself not only to attack those who filed compensation suits, but also reveals the traces of Nazi thinking not only in the Freedom Party but in Austrian society in general:

An old man who survived Auschwitz has told me once: “there is something worse than surviving the concentration camp.” I was horrified by his remark and asked what he meant. He answered me sadly: “not to survive the concentration camp. Everyday I think about the dead, and not what the world owes me because I survived.” [43]  

Sichrovsky’s message for Holocaust survivors, therefore, is to be thankful for staying alive—something no Jew could take for granted—instead of suing for compensation. This is not Sichrovsky’s private opinion, but the Freedom Party’s position as expressed by its general secretary. Sichrovsky sealed his interview with the words: “The corpse robbery by Mister Fagan and the professional Jews of the World Jewish Congress kills the victims a second time. It does not allow any sorrow and any overcoming of sorrow.” [44] Sichrovsky’s words insinuate an analogy between the Jewish compensation claimants and the Nazis which completes the character of the “pretend Holocaust survivor” painted by Haider. [45]  

     Sichrovsky also repeatedly calls the Vienna Jewish community head, Ariel Muzicant, an “immigrant,” because Muzicant was born in Israel. He ignores the fact that Muzikant’s parents fled the Nazi takeover of Austria. This correlates with Haider’s use of the term “emmigrants” to describe Jewish survivors who fled Austria, whereas he calls the expelled Germans vertriebene (deportees). Sichrovsky also created a new definition of antisemitism more in line with the Freedom Party’s ideas: “Antisemitism means hate for Jews, the wish, as an ultimate consequence, to kill these people. There is also a prejudice or an exaggerated criticism that does not end always with murder and killing.”[46] In Sichrovsky’s definition, then, antisemitism is limited to the Nazi type, namely leading to the liquidation of Jews. Other expressions against Jews that do not lead to murder should not be considered antisemitic. Thus, by this definition, Haider and the Freedom Party are not at all antisemitic, since they never planned to murder Jews.

The “Austrian traitor (or delator)”

Loyalty—to beliefs and to one’s group—is central to Haider’s thought. Whomever it concerns—Haider and his favorites, the Freedom Party, the government in which they are members, Austria, or all the German people—in each case, loyalty to the group and the protection of its members is conceived as the highest moral obligation. Criticism of the group is conceived as treason and “cooperation with the enemy.” Haider often uses the term “patriotism,” and he often calls Austria not Heimat (homeland), but unsere Vaterland (our fatherland), as is common in national circles. The two verbs which he often uses to describe criticism upon his party and himself are diffamieren (to defame) and beschmutzen (to smear). He is inclined to use these verbs especially when someone reproaches the racist and Nazi-sympathetic character of his party, or Austria’s Nazi past. Haider has called several times for punishing politicians who hurt Austrian interests, especially the leaders of the Austrian Socialist and Green parties, whom he blamed for the sanctions inflicted on Austria after the Freedom Party entered the coalition. These sanctions were cancelled in September 2000. In an interview for the weekly Format (No. 37, 11 September 2000), Haider said:

This question has to do with the responsibility of politicians, who serve under oath, for their deeds. If they stand up against their own country, it is unpatriotic and must entail consequences. In criminal law there is a special definition for this. What is concerned here is how effective it is—has consequences—when someone defames his country abroad.[47]  

Thomas Bernhard, Austria’s greatest author in our days, was reproached by Haider (in 1986) as “a subsidized author who defames our beautiful country,” because Bernhard repeatedly and harshly criticized not only Austria’s Nazi past, but also its many present adherents of Nazi ideas. Haider’s verbal attacks served as incitement for his followers to assault the elderly and very sick author.

     But the case which I would like to focus upon, not because it is unique, but rather because it is very representative, is the case of the well-known political scientist Anton Pelinka of Innsbruck University. Pelinka was convicted on May 11, 2000 of defamation (Übler Nachrede ). Haider sued Pelinka because of remarks he had made on the Italian television station RAI in May 1999: “In his career, Haider has repeatedly made statements, which amount to trivializing National Socialism. Once he described death camps as penal camps. On the whole, Haider is responsible for making certain National Socialist positions and certain National Socialist remarks more politically acceptable.”

     Pelinka was convicted and fined, although it was proven that Haider had indeed called the death camps “penal camps” (Straflager) . The ground for the conviction was the fact that Pelinka should have added the second part of Haider’s statement—that fifty years ago “a certain ethnic minority” (eine etnische Minderheit—another substitute for “Jews”) was liquidated on these camps.

     Pelinka’s conviction (as other defamation lawsuits by Freedom Party’s politicians), was criticized in a report issued by a commission appointed by the European court of human rights in September 2000. On July 12, 2000 the president of the court had appointed a commission headed by former Finnish president Martti Ahtisaari to report on the human rights situation in Austria and its handling of strangers, refugees, and minorities under the new government. Ahtisaari, together with two former diplomats, Marcelino Oreja and Jochen Frowein, were referred to as the “Three Wise Men.” Their findings stated that the Freedom Party’s politicians used zweideutige Schprache (“very ambiguous language” Paragraph 88), and that “the judgment (concerning Pelinka) shows how difficult the situation is for somebody who wants to criticize the use of ambiguous language in that context. It is completely incomprehensible in the normal use of the German language to use the notion “Straflager” for camps where ethnic minorities are annihilated”(Paragraph 101).48]  

     Haider’s use of the term “penal camps” was not accidental, of course. As mentioned before, Haider’s father, Robert, was a prisoner in the Glasenbach penal camp for low-level Nazi functionaries, and was forced to take part in the removal of the bodies of forced laborers who died in the Ebensee camp. Thus, again Haider drew an analogy between the fate of Jews in the Holocaust and his parents’ fate after the war, as if there was no difference between the two.

     Neither the court, nor the Three Wise Men referred to the fact that Pelinka had brought up this one expression only as an example of many other statements by Haider and his men that trivialized the Nazi crime. Pelinka was saying that Haider favored the introduction of National Socialist expressions into normative public discussion—for which there is ample evidence. One might mention just the campaign slogan of the Viennese FPÖ in the October 1999 elections, found on billboards throughout Vienna: “Stopp der Überfremdung!” (Stop the over-flow of foreigners). As pointed out earlier, this term derived from Nazi vocabulary. Then there is Haider’s statement before the National Assembly in 1991 that “Hitler had a fair employment policy.” It is hard to avoid the conclusion that the court was searching for a reason to convict Pelinka. The conviction is even more troubling when one takes into account Pelinka’s record of fighting Nazi criminals.

     Haider’s lawsuit was not the first accusation against Anton Pelinka for defamation. Nazi sympathizers and Holocaust trivializers in Austria felt they had unfinished business with Professor Pelinka, and now, with the Freedom Party in the government, they hoped to settle matters.

     In 1988, Elmar Denz, the son of Egon Denz, prosecuted Professor Pelinka for alleged defamation of his father. Egon Denz was a senior member of the Nazi Party and the mayor of Innsbruck at the time of the Kristallnacht. He had served as a substitute Gauleiter (Nazi regional head) for Tyrol, and also held the title of the city SS Standartenführer. At a 1988 ceremony in which the Jewish community of Innsbruck commemorated the fiftieth anniversary of the Kristallnacht pogroms, Anton Pelinka described Egon Denz as a leading figure in perpetrating the Kristallnacht crimes in the city of Innsbruck. For this reason, Elmar Denz brought him to court for defamation of his father.

     The Kristallnacht occurrences in Innsbruck on November 9–10, 1938 were extremely brutal. The Gauleiter Hofer ordered the destruction of the synagogue on Silbergasse, as well as many Jewish apartments and shops. The Nazis intentionally murdered Richard Berger, the president of the local Zionist organization who had served as head of the Jewish community from June 1938, whom they hated ardently. They also murdered Dr. Wilhelm Bauer, the head of the Jewish merchants’ association. Other Jews were killed or severely injured. A few Jews were thrown into the river Sill, but managed to save themselves. Several Jews committed suicide before their persecutors reached them, among them the president of the Tyrolian association of industrialists, Fritz Reitlinger, the pathologist Gustav Bayer, and the historian Lehmann-Haupt.

     Elmar Denz claimed there was no proof to his father’s participation in the crimes, but the court accepted Pelinka’s argument that Egon Denz was part of the system and therefore shared responsibility. Pelinka was fully acquitted, but Elmar Denz appealed to the Tyrolian High Court, which again acquitted Pelinka on July 1991.

     I suspect that the lawsuit against Pelinka was intended not only to silence his present criticism of Haider, but also to signal to all who refuse to forget and conceal the Nazi crimes what one should expect when failing to show respect to the old Nazi generation, now that their sons and admirers have come to power.

     No less worrying is the story of Herbert Lackner, editor of the weekly Profil concerning the scandal that arose when it was discovered that policemen belonging to the Freedom Party had delivered secret police information about political opponents for the use of Freedom Party leaders. Lackner wrote that about four years previously, a leading member of the Freedom Party, Ewald Stadler, showed him comprehensive police information concerning several matters, including information about a former Profil correspondent, Wolfgang Purtscheller, who specialized in investigating the Neo-Nazi scene (Profil 42, 16 October 2000, p. 19). Although Freedom Party members—unlike the neo-Nazis—observe the law and avoid violence, they do act to protect the neo-Nazis. In January 1992, following a wave of neo-Nazi violence, the police increased its activity against them. Haider claimed that the issue had been much inflated, and only involved two or three hundred lunatics. He suggested that the subject should not be raised too often, because it would create a negative image of Austria.

     Since the Freedom Party came to power it has tried to neutralize those paragraphs in the Austrian constitution which strictly forbid denial or trivialization (Verharmlosung) of the Holocaust, racial and antisemitic expressions, and praise of the National Socialists or sympathizing with them. Freedom Party members have introduced many Nazi idioms into public discourse, along with expressions of sympathy and forgiveness towards the Nazis. At the same time, they try to terrorize everyone who criticizes such expressions, accusing them in court of defamation, while no measures are taken against Nazis and Holocaust deniers like Herbert Schweiger, who openly expresses his Nazi views.[49]  

     Haider’s reaction to criticism of Pelinka’s conviction in the report of the Three Wisemen was as follows:

Pelinka habe seine internationalen Freunde bis hinauf zur New York Times mobilisiert, um die FPÖ zu diffamieren. Er hat die FPÖ nur im Ausland verleumdet, in Österreich hätte er so etwas nie geaussert. Das ist eine hinterhältige Vorgangweise. (Pelinka has mobilized his international friends up at the New York Times, in order to defame the Freedom Party. He propagated slander about the Freedom Party only abroad. He would not do it in Austria. This is treacherous behaviour.)

Everyone in Austria can identify the nationality of “Pelinka’s international friends” who write in the New York Times. It is typical of Haider’s antisemitism that the term “Jews” was not mentioned explicitly. Instead, “international” suggests “international Jewry” and replaces the older term “cosmopolitans,” formerly a common defamatory name for Jews, stressing their vagabond nature and lack of roots, as opposed to the German’s deep connection to their fatherland. In a 1991 article in the radical right paper Aula, Andreas Mölzer counted the diaspora Jews among the entwurzelte Völker—unrooted people for whom “commerce and the business of money exchange—also when cash is replaced by a bottle of vodka or a piece of salami—moulded the character of these nations so fully, that crafts, agriculture or industrial work seem to them simply against nature.”[50] In case someone might miss the message, Haider pointed to the New York Times—a “Jewish newspaper”—and not to European newspapers more interested in the issue than the New York Times itself. In the study published by Ruth Wodak and others, Wir sind alle unschuldige Täter, considerable space is given to proving that the New York Times’ reports about the Waldheim affair were not defamatory and vindictive, as claimed by the Austrian press. Haider’s reference to the New York Times in connection with Pelinka suggests that “New York Times” is actually coded language meant to bring to mind the “press dominated by world Jewry,”[51] just as the reference to an “East Coast American” may really mean any American Jew.

     In addition, we can note that Haider links “Jewish friends” with “treacherous behavior.” He who has Jewish friends also acts “like a Jew,” namely as a traitor and delator, the characteristic most often identified with Jews in the Christian tradition.

     Haider’s antisemitism has two layers: in one layer Haider uses old and modern antisemitic stereotypes: the Jew is a traitor, fickle, without roots, and unfaithful. Jews have international connections, and control the press. Haider sees a Jewish leader like the late Ignaz Bubis as a kind of modern Judas, who made his fortune from gold taken from his murdered fellows. In the second layer, all these antisemitic stereotypes are used in order to draw an analogy between Jews and Nazis, to show that the Jews are no better than the Nazis, and therefore they have no right to blame Nazis or Nazi adherents, like Haider himself and his men.

     Whether disguised or blunt, explicit or implied, one should not underestimate the place of antisemitism in the thinking of Haider and his Freedom Party, which combine together fascism, racism, antisemitism, and the relativization and trivialization of the Holocaust.


[1]    See especially Bernd Marin, Antisemitismus ohne Antisemiten (Frankfurt/New York, Campus, 2000); Ruth Wodak and others, Wir sind alle unschuldige Täter (Frankfurt a/M: Suhrkampf, 1990) especially pp. 97–101; 128–164, and the glossarium, pp. 348–59. I was acquainted with the latter only after the first version of this article was finished, and was amazed at the great similarities in our conclusions, based on differing materials from different time periods.

[2]    Ruth Wodak spoke about “classical antisemitism’ (including Christian antisemitism), National-Socialist antisemitism, and “new” antisemitism (p. 147), namely postwar antisemitism. I thought that the term “new antisemitism” might be misleading, and confuse the unique postwar antisemitism with modern antisemitism characteristic of the Enlightment era up to late 19th century antisemitism. Wodak, Wir sind, especially pp. 146–50).

[3]    I will discuss Haider’s Revisionist conceptions in a forthcoming article, based on a lecture given at a symposium at Tel Aviv University on March 5, 2000.

[4]    Ernest Nolte, “Zwischen Geschichtslegende und Revisionismus? Das Dritte Reich im Blickwinkel des Jahres 1980,” in Eberhard Jäckel, ed., Historikerstreit (Munich and Zurich: Piper, 1987), 13–35.

[5]    Wodak, Wir sind, 149–50, discussed “Gleichsetzung von Juden und Nazis” (an analogy between Jews and Nazis) as an antisemitic argumentation strategy accepted by various political camps. This is true, of course, in the narrow sense, but one should pay attention that there is a wider Revisionist ideology behind this strategy, which strives to put the Holocaust in a relativist context

[6]    See, e.g., interview in Newsweek , 15 November 1999:

     Newsweek: Who do you belive are the century’s worst political criminals?

     Haider: Hitler and Stalin.

     Newsweek: You once said Churchill.

     Haider: That was a misunderstanding.

{7]    Biographical details were taken mainly from Christa Zöchling, Haider—Eine Karriere (Munich: Econ Taschenbuch Verlag, 2000).

[8]    “Ich habe eine sehr schöne Kindheit erlebt und habe eine sehr positive Beziehung zu meinen Eltern. Ich stand also immer in einem Spannungsverhältnis. Auf der einen seite waren meine Eltern, denen ich nichts antun wollte, weil sie genügend erlebt und auch dafuer gebüsst haben, was im National-Sozialismus von ihnen zu verantworten war. Auf der anderen Seite waren die Eiferer der 68er Generation, die im Brustton der Überzeugung gesagt haben: Wir hätten alles viel besser gemacht.”

[9]    “Dass es in dieser regen Zeit, wo es noch anständige Menschen gibt, die einen Charakter haben und die auch bei grösstem Gegenwind zu ihrer Überzeugung stehen und ihre Überzeugung bis heute treu geblieben sind. Und das ist eine Basis, Freunde, die mein lieben auch an uns Junge weitergegeben wird. Und ein Volk, das seine Vorfahren nicht in ehren hält, ist sowieso zum Untergang verurteilt.”

[10] “Es kann nicht so sein, dass die Geschichte unserer Väter und Grossväter aufgrund des absonderlichen Zeitgeistes zu einem einzigen Verbrecheralbum gemacht wird und Ihre Leistungen vor der Geschichte mit Füssen getreten werden.”

[11] Klaus Ottomeyer, Die Haider-Show , (Klagenfurt: Drava Verlag, 2000), 65.

[12] Ibid., pp. 65–68.

[13] “Soldaten waren immer die Opfer des Krieges. Bedeutende Entscheidungen wurden nicht von den Soldaten, sondern von den grossen Kriegsherren getroffen, die allein die politische Macht und die Befehlsgewalt hatten. Die meisten der deutschen Soldaten, die Leib und Leben für ihr Land riskierten und unendliches Elend ertragen musten, können zu Recht darauf hinweisen, dass sie selbst an Hitlers Kriegsverbrechen nicht beteiligt gewesen seien und sich auch nicht sonstiger Kriegsverbrechen schuldig gemacht haetten… — “die meisten” sage ich: das gilt nicht für jeden.”

[14] “Das wissen Sie so gut wie ich, dass die österreichischen Nation eine Missgeburt gewesen ist, eine ideologische Missgeburt, denn die Volkszugehörigkeit ist die eine Sache, und die Staatszugeh örigkeit ist die andere Sache, und wenn mann es jemandem freistellt, sich als slowenischer Österreicher zu bekennen, als ungarischer, als kroatischer, dann muss es auch möglich sein, sich als deutscher Österreicher zu bekennen. Und das ist auch das, was in unserem Programm formuliert ist.”

[15] “Der Begriff der österreichischen Nation war die Lebenslüge für die zweite Republik… Denn man hat geglaubt, man kann sich damit, dass man sagt: “Wir sind eine österreichische Nation, wir haben eine eigene österreichische Unterrichtssprache, wir haben mit der deutschen Geschichte nichts mehr zu tun" aus der gemeinsamen Verantwortung auch für den Nationalsozialismus davonstehlen. Meine Position war immer, dass ich gesagt habe: "Wir sind nicht nur Opfer, sondern waren auch Täter.” Das haben manche nicht wahrhaben wollen — auch in meiner Partei nicht, auch bei den Sozialdemokraten nicht.”

     Compare also Andreas Mölzer: “Plädoyer für eine Verständigung” in Juden und Deutsche: Vergangenheit und Zukenft, 84–94, and from p. 90; “Wir werden anerkennen müssen, dass Österreich sich seit 1945 aus der deutschen Geschichte davonstehlen wollte, um sich sozusagen als ‘Mietsieger’ der historischen Verantwortung entledigen zu können. Das, was die alliierten Mächte im Jahre 1943 in Moskau deklarierten, half uns dabei. Die Wahrheit ist aber, dass Österreich und die Österreicher in nur dem selben Masse Opfer des Hitlerfaschismus geworden sind, wie alle übrigen Deutschen zwischen 1933 und 1945 auch. Die Wahrheit ist…dass grosse Teile der Bevölkerung…den totalitären Irrweg der NS-Zeit über weite Strecken mitgegangen sind, und dass auch unter den Tätern eine überproportionale Anzahl von Österreicher zu finden ist” (We must acknowledge that since 1945 Austria tried to escape the German history, in order to be able, as a ‘participant-winner,’ to get rid of the historical responsibility. So, what the Allies declared in 1945 in Moscow helped us in this. But the truth is, that Austria and the Austrians are victims of Hitler’s Fascism only in the same sense that all the other Germans were between 1933 and 1945. The truth is…that a great part of the population…joined the totalitarian wrong way of the Nazi period for a long run, and that also among the murderers, a disproportionate number of Austrians was found.) And still, like Haider, Mölzer insisted that there was by no means a collective guilt of all the German people (p. 88).

[16] Compare also with Marin, Antisemitismus , 128–31, especially 131: “Die Errichtung, Existenz und und Sicherung dieses jüdischen Nationalstaats Israel wurde nun selbst als Wiedergutmachungsleistung aufgefast.” (the founding, existence and safety of this Jewish national state Israel itself is conceived now as a compensation). Marin does not mention that conceiving Israel as a compensation for the Holocaust is often combined with denial of Jewish nationality and right for self-determination enjoyed by all nations, so that the existence of a Jewish state is conceived as a special favour and not as a realization of a natural right.

[17] Wodak, Wir sind, also mentioned the use of the term “emigrierten” (emigrants), combined with “rich “ and “privileged” Jews, and nurturing the idea of a “successful emigration”, in order to reduce guilt feelings. See there, pp. 23, 25; chs. 1.2.–1.3., and note 6 there.

[18] Ibid., 81; 128–29.

[19] Similar excluding strategies were used against Simon Wiesenthal in the Peter affair: see Ibid., 295–96; 302–303.

[20] Haider: Ich glaube, wir sollten uns stärker auf die Zukunft konzentrieren, um zu verhindern, dass sich diese Dinge wiederholen.

     Die Zeit: Wie lassen sich Lehren fuer die Zukunft ziehen, wenn man sich nicht gleichzeitig der Vergangenheit stellt?

     Haider: Irgendwann muss man auch mal aus der Vergangenheit ausbrechen können. Ich habe übrigens auch schon Gerhard Schröder sagen hoeren: Jetzt ist genug, wir wenden uns nun der Zukunft zu. Und Schröder ist immerhin ein Sozialist…

[21] Walser probably took the cudgel image from Michael Wolffsohn, Keine Angst vor Deutschland, where Wolffsohn spoke about “Auschwitz-Keule und Weimar-Hammer.” Wolffsohn wrote: “Die manipulative Instrumentalisierung von Auschwitz aber schaendet das Andenken der millionenfachen Opfer national-sozialistisch-Deutscher Schandtaten. Wer Auschwitz als Mittel zum politischen Zweck missbraucht, betreibt geistige Grabschändung.” Quoted in Gerhard Löwenthal, “Kann ein Jude deutscher Patriot sein?” in Andreas Mölzer and Martin Hobek, eds., Juden und Deutsche: Vergangenheit und Zukunft (Graz: Leopold Stocker Verlag, 1994), 104–109. About the role of the “honest Jew” in antisemitic circles, see below.

[22] Muzikant has appealed to prosecute Haider for instigation on account of this saying, but on July 2001 the Viennese Attorney General (Staatsanwalt) rejected the appeal. Muzikant also brought a private lawsuit for “instigating insult,” which is still in proceedings.

[23] Andreas Mölzer, “Plädoyer für eine Verstaendigung,” in Juden und Deutsche: Vergangenheit und Zukunft , 84–94.

[24] Reading Mölzer’s dealings with the Holocaust, a word he prefers to avoid, one should also bear in mind his statement (see ibid., 85): “Diese Ostmitteleuropaeische Judentum, das weitestgehend, “im deutschen Namen” vernichtet und vertrieben wurde, ist unleugbar ein Teil unseres abendlaendisch-deutsch Erbes und nahezuso etwas wie der kultur-historische Zwilling des Ostdeutschtums, welches auch vertrieben und vernichtet wurde.” (This Central-East-European Jewry, which was exterminated and expelled “in the name of the Germans” in the most far-reaching way, is undeniably a part of our Western-German inheritance and somehow almost like the cultural-historical twin of the East Germanity, also expelled and exterminated) — one should not miss the words order: Jewry “exterminated and expelled” versus Germans “expelled and exterminated” — a very sophisticated relativism, pretending to be sympathetic to Jewish catastrophe.

[25] See also Wodak, Wir sind, 148, the same idea as “Staberl.” This idea of normalisation, or rationalization, as shown there and with Mölzer, is combined with the idea of “drawing a final line under the past.”

[26] Haider: ich weiss nicht, ob der Herr Bubis so ein Interesse daran hat, dass ueber die Frage Gold in der Schweiz wirklich so umfassend diskutiert wird.

     Profil: Was werfen Sie Bubis vor?

     Haider: Ich sage, es könnte durchaus sein, dass verschidene Kreise gar nicht wollen, dass man über die Goldgeschaefte der Schweiz wirklich redet, weil dann könnte man in der Konsequenz möglicherweise draufkommen, dass der Herr Bubis vielleicht sogar aus der Schweiz Gold, das seinen früheren Freunden abgenommen worden ist, wieder illegal nach Deutschland gebracht hat und seinen Reichtum begründet hat. Bubis sollte diese Teile seiner Biographie öffentlich erklären…

[27] “Gefaengnis mit Aussicht,” in Robert Jungk Trozdem (Munich: Carl Hanser Verlag, 1993), 159–99.

[28] Andreas Mölzer, writer and journalist, was a member of the “Lorenzer Kreis,” whose friends helped Haider to gain control of the Freedom Party in 1986, and was one of the authors of the party platform. From the “Lorenzer Declaration” (paragraph 78): “Es ist unsere pflicht, unser Volkstum zu bewahren, und es wäre unverantwortlich, unsere etnischkulturellen Eigenarten einer allzu liberalen Einwanderungspolitik zuliebe auf Spiel zu setzen. Das Prinzip des sogennante multikulturellen Entwicklungen und multikulturellen Erziehung lehnen wir ab, da es Erfahrunggemässzur Nivellierung und zur geistigen Verarmung und Entwurzelung der menschen führt.” (It is our duty to watch our nationality and it would be irresponsible to endanger our ethnic-cultural characteristics for a too-liberal immigration policy. We reject the principle of the so-called multicultural developments and multicultural education, because experience shows that it brings shallowness, spiritual impoverishment and the uprooting of people.) Haider appointed Mölzer to head the “Education Academy” (Bildungsakademie) of the Freedom Party. Today he serves as Haider’s culture advisor in Charintia.

[29] How far Haider goes in ascribing stranger status to Austrian citizens can be seen from his August 2000 attack on Erhard Busek, former Vice-Chancellor of Austria from the People’s Party (and a sworn rival of Haider). Busek is now the Austrian representative at the European Union committee for joining Eastern-European countries. Haider claimed that Busek wants to help the Czech Republic — “a land, from which he clearly originated” — into the European Union, and demanded Busek’s resignation. Busek did not reproach Haider’s attack, but claimed that his family originated from Hessen (namely, “I am a real German”). This incident shows how Haider succeeds in changing public discourse in the national-ethnic direction.

[30] Descriptions of the TV transmission were taken from Jungk’s lawsuit against Haider in the state court in Klagenfurt (10 April 1992, decision on 13 April 1992, file 21 Cg 93/92). I would like to thank Jungk’s lawyers, Dr. Gerhard Mory and Dr. Heinrich Schellhorn, for kindly allowing me to use their files.

[31] See Wodak, Wir sind, 23, and the bibliography cited there.

[32] Ibid., 99, 129.

[33] Haider appealed to the county court in Graz; later Jungk appealed to the supreme court in Vienna, which ruled on November 24, 1992 (4 Ob 82/92) in favour of Jungk and required Haider to apologize personally on a Freedom Party television transmission.

[34] “Wer hat solch schwulstige Jubelmeldungen über die grandiosen Vorbereitungen Hitler’s auf seinen vierten Kriegswinter geschrieben? Ein begeisterter Hitler’s junge vielleicht? Ein Angehöriger der berüchtigten “Propagandakompanien” der Hitler’s Wehrmacht? Gar nicht wahr! Der Schwulst stammt aus der Feder des damaligen “Weltwoche” Korrespondenten Robert Jungk, der später nicht nur zum — klarerweise — demokratischen “Zukunftsforscher,” sondern überdies auch noch zum österreichischen Präsidentschaftskandidaten mutiert hat.” See Wodak, Wir sind, 147ff, 307–11 for further analysis of Staberl’s antisemitic strategies.

[35] “Die Deutsche Jugend hat in ihren Organizationen gelernt, die ‘verkalkten’ ‘bourgeoisen’ Chefs in solch burschikoser Weise anzufassen.”

[36] “Woher der Jungk diese Weisheit hat, ist mir unbekannt. Ich weis nur, dass ich damals auch zu dieser “Deutschen Jugend” gehören musste. Und dass ich, wenn ich meine “Chefs” in “burschikoser Weise angefasst”hätte, von diesen umgehend um einen Kopf kürzer gemacht worden wäre.”

[37] “Betretenes Schweigen stuende Herrn Jungk gut an. Aber nein! Als naziopfer pudelt er sich auf – und als Praesidentshaftskandidat!” Jungk sued Nimmerrichter and the Krone Verlag for slander and won the case. They were forced to apologize and compensate him (Oberlandesgericht Wien, 22.6.1992, 26 Cg 92/92, 14 R 129/92).

[38] Peter Stephan Jungk, “‘Ça chauffe chez vous!’ Gedanken zu Oesterreich 2000,” in Isolde Charim and Doron Rabinovici, Oesterreich, Berichte aus Quarantanien (Frankfurt a/M: Suhrkamp, 2000), 150–51.

[39] See Wodak, Wir sind, 298, quoted from Die Presse, 11 November 1975: “Ihn, Kreisky, könne in diesem Zusammenhang wohl niemand des Antisemitismus bezichtigen” (Nobody can blame Kreisky in this context [his attacks on Simon Wiesenthal, see below] for antisemitism).

[40] See Wodak, Wir sind, ch. 6, especially 285–99.

[41] Ibid., 300: “Kreisky wird zu einer Art Helden hochstilisiert, der es als einziger wagt, die ehrlosen Machenschaften dieser “Mafia” oeffentlich anzuprangen.” (Kreisky was made a kind of hero, the only one who dares to reproach in public the deceitful tricks of this “mafia”).

[42] “ Wo ist all das Geld? Wer hat sich auf Kosten der opfer bereichert? Was geht in der Kopfen jener vor, die den Millionenfachen Mord benutzen, um sich auf der politischen Weltbühne einzurichten, demokratisch gewählte Regierungen unter Druck zu setzen, sie mit Erpressungen zu bedrohen, wie es der World Jewish Congress in der Vergangenheit getan hat?’

[43] Ein alter Mann, der Auschwitz überlebte, sagte einmal zu mir: “Es gibt schlimmeres, als das KZ zu überleben.” Ich erschrank über seine Bemerkung und fragte, wie er dies meinte. Er antwortete traurig: “Das KZ nicht zu überleben. An die Toten denke ich jeden Tag und nicht daran, was mir die Welt schuldig ist, weil ich überlebt habe.”

[44] “Die Leichenfledderei eines Herrn Fagan und der Berufsjuden eines WJC tötet jedoch die Opfer ein zweites Mal. Sie lässt keine Trauer zu und auch keine überwindung der Trauer.” Compare Sichrovsky’s “Leichenfledderei” with Michael Wolffsohn “Grabschändung,” (above, n. 20).

[45] See also the analogy made by Kreisky of Wiesenthal’s methods and Peter’s SS service in Wodak, Wir sind, 292–93.

[46]      “Antisemitismus heist Judenhass — der Wunsch, in lezter konsequenz diese Menschen umzubringen. Es gibt auch ein Vorurteil oder eine übertriebene Kritik, die nicht immer in Mord und Totschlag endet.” Quoted from an interview with the weekly Format, folio 11, 2000.

[47] “Diese Frage bezieht sich auf die Verantwortlichkeit von Politikern, die unter Eid stehen, für das, was sie tun. Wenn sie sich gegen das eigene Land stellen, ist das unpatriotisch und muss Konsequenzen haben. Im Strafrecht gibt es dafür eine eigene Bestimmung. Um die ist es mir gegangen: Wie effectiv ist die, hat das Konsequenzen, wenn jemand sein Land im Ausland schlechtmacht.”

[48] Martti Abtisaari, Jochen Frowein, and Marcellino Oreja Aguirre, Report [Report of the Three Wise Men] (Paris, 2000); available at http://www.virtual-institute.de/en/Bericht-EU/index.cfm.

[49] See also Ottomeyer, Die Haider-Show, ch. 6, especially p. 82.

[50]      “…entwurzelte Voelker, wie etwa die Juden in der Diaspora, die Armenier oder auch die Griechen, es diesbezüglich vermanden, aus der Not eine Tugend zu machen. Der Handel und das Geschäft des Geldwechslers — auch wenn die bare Münze durch die Flasche Wodka oder durch die Stange Salami ersetzt wird — prägte den Charakter dieser Voelker so hundertprozentig, dass ihnen Handwerk, Ackerbau oder Industriearbeit geradezu widernatürlich erscheinen mussten.”

[51] This is implied in Wodak, Wir sind, 81. See also foreword, especially 97–101, 128–31, 139–43.