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2005-04-19

Orange is close to Brown 

The last days have brought events in the second chamber of the Austrian parliament [Bundesrat] that prove the abominable political quality of some deputies there in a way that is breathtaking.

First, last week two deputies of the ÖVP repeatedly tried to hold down the arm of an FPÖ-deputy who voted against the government, and who thereby delivered the first defeat of the government in the chamber since it lost its majority there due to the BZÖ-FPÖ-split. The ÖVP-deputies later claimed they believed the FPÖ-deputy was voting inadvertently against his intentions, a claim that is not really substantiated by the video of the tumultuous scene.

Even worse though is what is hitting the frontpages of the online papers today (Standard, Presse): the new faction leader of the BZÖ in the Bundesrat, Siegfried Kampl, born in 1936, is uttering, and even defending, statements about the opposition to the nazi-regime that are simply gut-wrenching. He said that there was a "brutal persecution of nazis [brutale Naziverfolgung] after 1945", including the imprisonment for two years of his own father by the British army. Asked about the NSDAP-membership of his father, Kampl said that his father was an NSDAP-member like "more than 99%. There were 100% party members." Soldiers who deserted from the German army were "partly murderers of their brothers in arms [Kameradenmörder]". These "murderers" were not "singular cases" but "catastrophic situations".

Believe it or not, this man is even scheduled to become president of the second chamber of parliament in the second half of 2005 by automatic rotation. He has been defended by the BZÖ party-leadership with the argument that he was speaking from his personal traumatic experiences as a child, while his statements do not represent official party-wording. The opposition is calling for Kampl's exit from parliament, whereas the ÖVP has only said that Kampl's comments do not correspond to its own views.

In my opinion it is shocking that someone with such views even managed to get into the Bundesrat, FPÖ-member or not, but after these revelations he must leave immediately. The newly coined word "Naziverfolgung", about which Kampl is unapologetic, is an outrageous reversal of the commonly used compound "Judenverfolgung" [persecution of Jews], and it is apparently aimed at suggesting a structural equivalence between the holocaust and the exceedingly mild investigations against Austrian nazis after the war. Austria, 60 years after its liberation.


4 comments:

Also it puts the right light on Mr. Scheibners recent speech where he tried to distance BZÖ from "the old ways of thinking", "antisemitism" and so on.

Aber, was soll's. Schwamm drüber! And who are we to criticize "the older generation."

Bengt O.

http://www.karlsson.at/ordet.htm
 

Yes, BZÖ-speaker Mr Scheuch's remarks that as a 36-year-old he declined to wreck his brains over the past were another beauty.
 

"Austria, 60 years after its liberation."

Liberation? Given that Austria was, in the main, so enthusiastically pro-Nazi and anti-Semitic, "defeat" is a far more accurate term than "liberation".

Had I been a slightly less diplomatic individual, I would have suggested that to speak of "Austria's liberation" is a grotesque untruth.
 

Pooh, you may see it that way from a war-time perspective, but for Austrians living today it would be utterly inappropriate to think of the end of Nazi-rule as a defeat of the country in which we happen to live now (only people like Kampl, who finally resigned on 28 April, could possibly hold this view here). Rather, the end of Hitler's regime at the hand of the allied armies opened up the road for the development of the democratic state to which many Austrians are now committed. In this sense, Austria as a political entity that can be worthy of our allegiance was liberated.
 
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