Austrian arrested for yelling ‘Heil Hitler’ at rabbi at concentration camp site

Suspect admits to shouting Nazi slogans at rabbi, who had brought his grandson to visit place where his own father was deported

File photo: A picture taken on April 28, 2015, shows a barbed wire fence at a former Nazi concentration camp. (Joe Klamar/AFP)
File photo: A picture taken on April 28, 2015, shows a barbed wire fence at a former Nazi concentration camp. (Joe Klamar/AFP)

VIENNA — A man has been arrested for shouting Nazi slogans at a rabbi visiting a former concentration camp in Austria, police said on Friday, amid concerns over rising anti-Semitism in the country.

The 49-year-old suspect is accused of shouting “Heil Hitler” and making a Nazi salute at the rabbi in the town of Ebensee last week.

The rabbi was there with his grandson to visit a memorial commemorating the camp where his own father had been deported.

The police said the man had admitted the charges, which also included shouting “Mein Volk, Mein Reich, mein Fuhrer,” the motto of the Nazi regime.

Starving prisoners of the Ebensee concentration camp in Austria, a subcamp of the Mauthausen concentration camp, photographed by an American soldier at liberation on May 6, 1945 (National Archives and Records Administration)

Offenses involving expressions of pro-Nazi sentiment are not uncommon in Austria, despite it having some of the world’s strictest laws against such acts.

Concerns over extremism have been brought to the fore by the entry of the far-right Freedom Party (FPOe) into the national government in December as a junior coalition partner.

People hold up placards during a protest against Austria’s far right in Vienna on January 26, 2018. (AFP Photo/APA/Hans Punz)

Protests are expected outside a ball for student fraternities organized by the FPOe in Vienna’s former imperial Hofburg palace.

Vice-Chancellor and FPOe leader Heinz-Christian Strache said he would renounce “all forms of anti-Semitism” in his speech opening the ball.

Earlier this week prosecutors opened an inquiry after the weekly Falter magazine revealed a student fraternity had published a songbook containing virulently anti-Semitic and pro-Nazi lyrics.

The FPOe’s Udo Landbauer came under political pressure over the revelations as he had been deputy chair of the fraternity.

Landbauer, who is the chief candidate in a regional election on Sunday, denied all knowledge of the texts and said he had been a child when they were published.

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