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Austrian fraternity investigated for Nazi lyric songbook

Report reveals a far-right Freedom Party candidate for state office is a member of the group

Udo Landbauer. (YouTube screenshot)
Udo Landbauer. (YouTube screenshot)

Austria’s new chancellor said prosecutors are investigating a student fraternity whose songbook contains Nazi lyrics.

Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said Wednesday on Twitter that there should be “zero tolerance for anti-Semitism, racism or praising Nazi tyranny.”

His comments come after a report revealed a Freedom Party candidate for state office, Udo Landbauer, was a member of the fraternity with the songbook. Many have raised concerns about Kurz’s decision to form a new coalition government with the nationalist, anti-migrant Freedom Party.

The book contains the line: “In their midst comes the Jew Ben Gurion: ‘Step on the gas, old Germanics, we can make it to seven million'” — an apparent reference to the six million Jews the Nazis killed in the Holocaust.

Other songs pay tribute to the Condor Legion, the Nazi unit responsible for the bombing of Guernica in the Spanish Civil War, as well as paratroopers behind atrocities in Crete in World War II, according to the Falter weekly.

Landbauer says he never heard such songs sung, and that the book was published when he was 11.

He said he was “shocked” by the texts, which he said he had only become aware of on Tuesday, and that he was freezing his membership in the fraternity.

Austrian Chancellor of the conservative People’s Party (OeVP) Sebastian Kurz (L) and vice-chancellor of the far-right Freedom Party (FPOe) Christian Strache, attend the swearing-in ceremony of the new Austrian government in Vienna, on December 18, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / VLADIMIR SIMICEK)

Despite FPOe leadership saying it rejects extremism and its leader Heinz-Christian Strache visiting Israel, Austria’s main Jewish organization, the IKG, earlier this month said it would refuse to meet FPOe ministers.

The IKG said on Tuesday that it would boycott a commemorative event on Thursday in Austria’s temporary parliament ahead of International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Saturday.

The party was formed by former Nazis in the 1950s. Strache, 48, now vice-chancellor, dallied with neo-Nazism in his youth, although he now says this was when he was “stupid, young and naive.”

Kurz of the OeVP, who has rejected criticism of his coalition with the FPOe by saying the party should be judged on its actions not its past, on Tuesday took to Twitter to call the song texts “racist, anti-Semitic and absolutely sickening.”

“It needs to be fully cleared up and those responsible brought to account,” Kurz wrote.

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