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Austrian far-right party faces up to its past with help of historians

Europe
13.02.2018
By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Vienna (dpa) - Austria‘s Freedom Party (FPOe) will enlist historians to shine a critical light on its past, party leaders announced on Tuesday, responding to accusations of lingering Nazi ideology.

"We will never forget the dark chapters of Austrian history and we firmly reject any attempts to downplay National Socialism," the far-right FPOe, which forms the government with the centre-right People‘s Party, said in a statement.

Legal historian and senior party figure Wilhelm Brauneder was tasked with forming a commission of Austrian and foreign scholars to examine the past of the party, whose founding members included former National Socialists.

The comission is set to present an interim report in October.

In January, it was revealed that an FPOe election candidate belonged to a far-right fraternity that used a songbook with anti-Semitic lyrics.

A significant number of the 51 FPOe representatives in the lower house of parliament belong to fraternities that express pan-Germanic nationalist sentiments. These organizations are not formally linked to the FPOe, but many of their members have reached senior positions in the party.

The FPOe will invite the fraternities to cooperate with the historians, said Walter Rosenkranz, the party‘s leader in parliament.

In contrast to neighbouring Germany, where the far right had been marginalized until it entered parliament last year, the FPOe has been in parliament and in several cabinets since the 1950s.

Current FPOe leader Heinz-Christian Strache has tried to make the party more centrist by cracking down on members who voice extremist views.

 

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