Spitfire List Web site and blog of anti-fascist researcher and radio personality Dave Emory.

For The Record  

FTR #179 Resurgent Fascism in Switzerland and Austria

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As the 90s drew to a close, elections in two central European countries gave evidence that fascism was alive, well and gaining in the “new” Europe of the EU. In Austria, Jörg Haider’s inappropriately named Freedom Party scored significant electoral gains, placing him in a position to wield significant political influence in that country. (Haider’s Freedom Party was founded in 1949 as a vehicle for the rehabilitation of Austrian Nazis who had served under Hitler.)

Calling his political agenda “A Contract with Austria,” Haider explicitly patterned his political program after that of Newt Gingrich.

Railing against Austrian participation in the EU and the “dangers” presented by immigration from Eastern Europe, Haider has successfully played on the fears of working Austrians that they might lose their jobs. A similar xenophobia propelled Christoph Blocher to success in Swiss elections. Like Haider, Blocher has targeted Swiss participation in the EU and “immigrants”. Blocher has also railed against Swiss membership in the United Nations and successfully exploited the resentment of older Swiss citizens about recent disclosures of Swiss collaboration with Third Reich finance before, during and after World War II. It is worth noting that Blocher’s political base consists of the German segment of the Swiss population and that the recent success of his People’s Party is seen as further distancing the French-speaking minority. Blocher has endorsed a book that denied that the Holocaust took place.

Much of the program focuses on the profound role played in Swiss finance and business by the remarkable and deadly Bormann organization. The economic component of a Third Reich that literally went underground, the Bormann group was described by one banker as “the most important concentration of money power under a single control in all of world history”.

The discussion underscores the critical role that Switzerland has played in the operations of the Bormann organization. First of all, Switzerland was one of the countries in which Martin Bormann located many of the 750 corporate fronts which served as repositories for all the liquid wealth of the Third Reich at the war’s end. Switzerland was the location of numerous holding companies, which served to mask the real ownership and control of the German economy. A holding company may only hold stock in other companies. (Actual control of the German economy is maintained through bearer bonds, which grant ownership of the corporate entity in question to the bearer of those bonds.)

Of particular note is the Interhandel company, set up by I.G. Farben luminary Hermann Schmitz to mask ownership of Farben assets. (I.G. Farben was the backbone of the Third Reich’s economy and its successor companies dominate the German economy. Farben’s Schmitz was very close to Bormann and helped set up the various corporate fronts that comprised the organization.)

The discussion highlights Switzerland’s role as the vehicle for the Bormann group’s ongoing purchase of stock in U.S. blue chip corporations and concludes with a look at Martin Bormann’s demand accounts at three key American commercial banks in the post-war period!

Discussion

2 comments for “FTR #179 Resurgent Fascism in Switzerland and Austria”

  1. What’s old is new again in Switzerland. Maybe. It depends on how the Swiss decide to vote in a few weeks. So what’s old may or may not be new again. But it’s definitely still ill-advised:

    Quartz
    It seems nuts, but the Swiss may go back to a gold standard

    Written by
    Matt Phillips November 6, 2014

    The British pound hasn’t been linked to gold since 1931. The US US snipped the cord in 1971. But the Swiss only fully severed ties to gold in 1999, when voters approved a revamped constitution.

    Now, a good chunk of them seems to want to go back.

    .On Nov. 30, Swiss voters will cast ballots on a number of issues including the “Save our Swiss Gold” initiative launched by the right-leaning Swiss People’s Party. The ballot measure would instantly ban the Swiss National Bank from selling gold. It also would require that the national bank keep 20% of its assets in gold within five years. (It currently has about 8% in gold.) Oh, and it would demand that all the gold be stored in Switzerland itself. (About 30% is parked abroad right now.)

    “It’s really an attempt to return to some kind of gold standard, for those who don’t trust paper money and who want gold backing it up,” UBS strategist Beat Siegenthaler told Reuters.

    While it’s not strictly the same thing as a gold standard—for instance a classical gold standard stipulated that national banknotes be freely converted to gold at a fixed price—the Swiss gold initiative is a step in that direction.

    What’s the motivation, exactly?

    It would be one thing if we were dealing with a basket-case currency and rampant Swiss inflation. But Switzerland’s currency problem, ever since it cut ties with gold, is that the franc has been far too strong, not too weak. That’s acted as a drag on the Swiss economy’s high-value export sector. In fact, it’s been such a problem that the Swiss National Bank has taken big—some might say risky—steps to smack down the currency, the effects of which would likely be reversed if the bank were forced to buy more gold.

    And the worst part of the proposed law, according to a Swiss National Bank official by the name of Jean-Pierre Danthine, is the provision that Switzerland must never, ever sell gold again. He explained in a recent speech:

    In combination with the obligation to hold at least 20% of total assets in gold, this could gradually lead the SNB into a situation where its assets would mainly consist of gold: each extension of the balance sheet for monetary policy reasons would necessitate gold purchases, but whenever the balance sheet needed to be reduced again for the same reasons, we would not be able to resell our gold holdings. This would severely restrict our room for manoeuvre.

    From a purely tactical point of view, it would be deeply silly to double down right now on gold, which gained in value during the financial crisis but has since slid from its peak in 2011 at nearly $1,900 an ounce. Committing to buy now would essentially be a giant bailout for speculators in the gold markets. Bloomberg reports that, given the Swiss National Bank has some $544 billion in assets on its balance sheet, the gold initiative would force it to buy more than $56 billion worth of physical gold over the next five years. And if current price trends continue, the value of that gold would be falling.

    In short, the Save Our Swiss Gold initiative doesn’t make sense economically. (Luckily its chances of becoming law are slim—it would need to win outright in a popular vote, and also in the majority of cantons that make up the Swiss Federation.) But referenda like this and the one Swiss voters recently passed to clamp down on immigration really aren’t about economics. They’re about the increasingly influential rightward drift of European politics, which threatens to result—especially in the case of the Save our Swiss Gold initiative—in some really terrible policies.

    “In short, the Save Our Swiss Gold initiative doesn’t make sense economically. (Luckily its chances of becoming law are slim—it would need to win outright in a popular vote, and also in the majority of cantons that make up the Swiss Federation.) But referenda like this and the one Swiss voters recently passed to clamp down on immigration really aren’t about economics. They’re about the increasingly influential rightward drift of European politics, which threatens to result—especially in the case of the Save our Swiss Gold initiative—in some really terrible policies.”

    Yes, identity politics and a generic rightward drift appear to have once again put the European lizard brain in the driver’s seat so who knows if it will pass at this point. And while the chances of this law passing are still seen as relatively small since it lacks majority backing, keep in mind that it’s getting pretty close to having that majority:

    The Wall Street Journal
    Swiss Bank Speaks Out Against Gold Initiative
    Polls Show Vote on Gold Bullion Proposal Too Close to Call

    By John Revill
    Nov. 12, 2014 5:55 a.m. ET

    ZURICH—The head of Switzerland’s central bank has warned that maintaining stable prices would be harder to achieve if the Alpine country votes to require the bank to keep a minimum amount of gold in its vaults.

    The adoption of the so-called “Save Our Swiss Gold” initiative would be a “fatal error of judgment,” Thomas Jordan, president of the Swiss National Bank, told Swiss newspaper 20 Minuten in an interview published Wednesday.

    On Nov. 30, the Swiss are scheduled to vote in a referendum on the initiative to make the Swiss National Bank to hold a fifth of its assets in gold, a level it would need to meet within five years. The SNB currently has assets of around $550 billion.

    The requirement, the campaign for which is led by members of the right-wing Swiss People’s Party, would also prohibit the bank from selling any of its gold in the future and repatriate gold held overseas.

    A recent poll showed the vote was too close to call with 44% of respondents in favor of the initiative, 39% against and 17% undecided. A majority of voters and a majority of Switzerland’s 26 cantons, akin to U.S. states, need to approve the initiative for it to pass.

    Mr. Jordan said the proposals would damage the SNB’s ability to deal with inflation, while jobs could be endangered.

    “Too little gold in the economic crisis was never the problem, the strong franc was the problem,” Mr. Jordan said in the interview. “We had a massive overvaluation which has led to major problems.

    “We must be able to dampen this problem, but our ability to do this would be severely restricted,” he said. The initiative would force the SNB to buy gold every time it buys euros, which it has done to curb the rise of the Swiss franc.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 12, 2014, 12:51 pm
  2. Victory for Austria’s new anti-EU leader and surge in support for anti-immigrant party sends shockwaves through Europe as Merkel warns of ‘big challenge’ ahead

    By Joe Sheppard and Gareth Davies and Scott Campbell For Mailonline October 16, 2017

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4984980/Sebastian-Kurz-victory-sends-shockwaves-Europe.html#ixzz4vm4fcU6r 
    Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

    The article states:
    Sebastian Kurz’s election victory last night has sent shockwaves through Europe as it appears he may seek a coalition with the country’s anti-immigration Freedom Party.

    The Eurosceptic leader of Austria’s right-leaning People’s Party has declared victory in a national election that puts him on track to become the world’s youngest leader.

    Kurz, 31, fell well short of a majority and may be looking to strike a deal with another party. 

    The Freedom Party (FPO) got around 26 percent of votes in Sunday’s parliamentary vote, boosted by a European migration crisis in 2015 that affected Austria and also led Kurz to campaign on an anti-migration platform. 

    Today European Union ministers congratulated Austria’s Sebastian Kurz on his election victory but some were uneasy about the far-right, eurosceptic party that may enter the new government.

    And German chancellor Angela Merkel warned that the surge in support for the FPO posed a ‘big challenge’ for other parties.
    Before arriving to talks with his EU peers Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn said: ‘I don’t have a problem with Sebastian Kurz as a person. We’re not following the same line politically, that has never been the case and it never will be.’

    He listed pro-European Austrian politicians as role models for Kurz and warned Vienna not to side with migration hardliners, including Hungary, whose government is also eurosceptic.

    Skipping down in the article…
    Here’s what the two parties stand for: 

    People’s Party 
    • Cap basic welfare payments for refugees at 540 euros a month
    • No inheritance tax and introduce 1,500 euros-a-month minimum wage
    • Cutting income tax on annual earnings up to 60,000 euros

    Freedom Party
    • Push for Brussels to hand more powers back to member states
    • Shut sectors of economy to non-EU workers
    • Cut proportion of foreign pupils in schools
    • Deport foreign convicts

    Where they agree… 
    • Stop rescue missions of refugees in the Mediterranean
    • Cut EU influence on the day to day governing of Austria
    • Higher standards of integration before granting citizenship
    • Foreigner benefits ban for five years

    Skipping down further…

    The resurgent far-right: How politics across Europe has taken a shift from the centre 
    Austria’s hard-right Freedom Party has a shot at sharing power after elections on Sunday, having narrowly lost out in a presidential vote last year.

    A far-right party has also had some success in Germany, in September becoming the first such party to enter the Bundestag since the end of World War Two, but their counterpart in France is faring less well.
    Here is a snapshot of some of the far-right parties in Europe.

    Austria
    The eurosceptic and anti-immigrant Freedom Party (FPOe) came close to winning the presidency in December, which would have made its leader the European Union’s first far-right president.

    One of Europe’s most established nationalist parties, it is forecast to come second or third in this weekend’s vote and could become junior coalition partners to the favourites, the conservative People’s Party (OeVP).

    Founded in 1956 by ex-Nazis, the party earned a stunning second place in 1999 elections with nearly 27 percent.

    Last year its candidate Norbert Hofer narrowly lost a presidential runoff against Greens-backed economics professor Alexander Van der Bellen.

    Germany
    The openly anti-immigration and Islamophobic Alternative for Germany (AfD) is the third-biggest party in the Bundestag after the September election, a political earthquake for post-war Germany.
    The party took nearly 13 percent of the votes, having failed in the 2013 election to make even the five percent required for representation in parliament.
    It has more than 90 seats on the benches of the parliament that meets for the first time on October 24.

    France
    Marine Le Pen’s National Front (FN), founded by her firebrand father Jean-Marie in 1972, took nearly 34 percent of votes in the May presidential election run-off won by Emmanuel Macron.

    Marine Le Pen’s National Front (FN), founded by her firebrand father Jean-Marie in 1972, took nearly 34 percent of votes in the May presidential election run-off won by Emmanuel Macron

    This was double her father’s 17.8 percent score when he reached the second round in 2002.
    In campaigning, Le Pen vowed to abandon the euro, reinstate control of the nation’s borders and curb immigration if she won.

    But the party fared badly in June parliamentary elections, taking just eight seats out of 577.

    Tensions since then burst into the open when Le Pen’s right-hand man Florian Philippot quit and looks set to go his own way. 

    Hungary
    The Movement for a Better Hungary, known as Jobbik, is ultra-nationalist and eurosceptic. It is the second largest party in the legislature but has been outflanked by Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s own hardline anti-immigration stance.

    Italy
    The Northern League is a ‘regionalist’ formation that evolved into an anti-euro and anti-immigrant party that secured 18 seats in the 2013 parliamentary election.
    The next general election must be held by spring 2018 and the party is hovering at around 14 percent of voter intentions.

    Greece
    The neo-Nazi Golden Dawn finished third in the September 2015 election, with seven percent of the vote and 18 MPs. One later defected and the party is now the fourth biggest in parliament.

    Sweden
    The anti-Islam Freedom Party (PVV) of Geert Wilders (pictured) in March became the second party in parliament, with 20 seats in the 150-member parliament

    The Sweden Democrats party, with roots in the neo-Nazi movement, made a breakthrough in September 2014 to become the country’s third biggest party with 48 of 349 seats and nearly 13 percent of the vote.
    Netherlands

    The anti-Islam Freedom Party (PVV) of Geert Wilders in March became the second party in parliament, with 20 seats in the 150-member parliament.

    Bulgaria
    The nationalist United Patriots coalition entered government for the first time in May after coming third in a March election. It is the junior party in the governing coalition.

    Slovakia
    In March 2016 the People’s Party Our Slovakia benefited from Europe’s refugee crisis to enter parliament for the first time, winning 14 seats out of 150.

    REFERENCE: Not mentioned in the article, but Marine LePenn’s father, Jean Marie LePene was sent to Algeria (1957) as an intelligence officer. He has been accused of having engaged in torture. Le Pen has denied these accusations, although he admitted knowing of its use.
    Source: Le Pen, son univers impitoyable Archived 24 February 2012 at the Wayback Machine., Radio France Internationale, 1 September 2006 (in French)

    Posted by Mary Benton | October 17, 2017, 6:13 am

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