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Austrian Nazi Coalition Government Raids Office, Officials of Agency Charged with Countering Right-Wing Extremism

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SS Brigade­fuhrer Anton Reinthaller, the first head of the Aus­tri­an Free­dom Par­ty (FPO)

COMMENT: In FTR #1016, we high­light­ed a sto­ry about Her­bert Kickl, the new Inte­ri­or Min­is­ter of Aus­tria, achiev­ing his office as a result of the inclu­sion of the FPO–the Aus­tri­an Free­dom Party–in a coali­tion gov­ern­ment in that unfor­tu­nate nation.

In this post, we recap key ele­ments of this sto­ry, in order to give empha­sis to key points of infor­ma­tion, the sig­nif­i­cance of which could not be exag­ger­at­ed.

Any mean­ing­ful dis­cus­sion of the FPO–the Aus­tri­an Free­dom Party–should begin with the ori­gins of the Aus­tri­an Free­dom Par­ty (FPO). The par­ty has its gen­e­sis with post World War II Third Reich veterans.–its first head was SS Gen­er­al Anton Reinthaller (pic­tured at right): ” . . . .  an hon­orary Brigade­führer (Major Gen­er­al) in the SS.[1] Hav­ing ini­tial­ly joined the SS in Decem­ber 1938 (with the mem­ber­ship num­ber 292,775)[2] he achieved his high­est rank on 30 Jan­u­ary 1941. . . . Reinthaller was brought before the Aus­tri­an Peo­ple’s Court and accused of ‘high trea­son against the Aus­tri­an peo­ple’, with the three [defen­dants] labelled as being those most respon­si­ble for the Anschluss [Nazi Ger­many’s annex­ing of Austria–D.E.] . . . .”

Fur­ther analy­sis of the devel­op­ment of the FPO, notes that the par­ty was found­ed by Third Reich vet­er­ans and Reinthaller’s suc­ces­sor was also an SS offi­cer. ” . . . . The par­ty was found­ed by the orig­i­nal Nazis in the 1950s and led by Nazis until the 1980s. . . . Reinthaller died in 1958 and was suc­ceed­ed as Free­dom Par­ty leader by Friedrich Peter, anoth­er for­mer Nazi Par­ty mem­ber and an offi­cer in the SS. Peter ran the par­ty for­mal­ly until 1978 and then played an infor­mal role well into the 1980s. . . .”

Against the back­ground of the gen­e­sis of the FPO, we note key points of this sto­ry:

  1. “ . . . . Since Decem­ber, the FPÖ’s Her­bert Kickl has been Austria’s inte­ri­or min­is­ter. Kickl, whose lean, griz­zled face and wire-rim glass­es make him look like a rad­i­cal con­spir­a­tor out of cen­tral cast­ing, used to write speech­es and gags for Haider. The for­mer pres­i­dent of the Vien­nese Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ty, Ariel Muz­i­cant, said in 2009 that Kickl’s texts remind­ed him of Joseph Goebbels. . . .”
  2. “ . . . . Today, Kickl often is described as the ‘mas­ter­mind’ behind the elec­toral suc­cess­es of the FPÖ that allowed it to enter into a coali­tion gov­ern­ment with the some­what more main­stream Chris­t­ian Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty of Prime Min­is­ter Kurz. As junior coali­tion part­ner, the Free­dom Par­ty now con­trols the defense, inte­ri­or and for­eign min­istries. . . .”
  3. ” . . . . In Aus­tria, the spe­cif­ic inci­dent that has crys­tal­lized wider con­cerns in the world of espi­onage and coun­teres­pi­onage as well as coun­tert­er­ror was a series of raids ordered by the far-right inte­ri­or min­is­ter ear­li­er this year on the offices of the pro­fes­sion­al domes­tic intel­li­gence chief, whose orga­ni­za­tion had in the past con­duct­ed and coor­di­nat­ed with Ger­many its sur­veil­lance of right-wing extrem­ists. . . .”
  4. “ . . . . Peter Gridling, known as the stub­born but polit­i­cal­ly col­or­less head of the BVT for the last 10 years, was fired sev­er­al days after the raids. He had been the object of a vir­u­lent cam­paign by the web­site unzensuriert.at (known as ‘the Aus­tri­an Bre­it­bart’). The for­mer edi­tor in chief of unzensuriert.at is now Kickl’s com­mu­ni­ca­tions direc­tor. . . .
  5. ” . . . . as one long-time secu­ri­ty advis­er to sev­er­al French pres­i­dents told The Dai­ly Beast, ‘The Aus­tri­an oper­a­tion against the intel­li­gence ser­vice by the min­istry of inte­ri­or had an impact on every oth­er intel­li­gence ser­vice in the West.’ . . . .”
  6. [Ger­man politi­cian Andrej] Hunko tells The Dai­ly Beast he is specif­i­cal­ly con­cerned that Kickl and his peo­ple would be able to acquire intel­li­gence about left­ist activists who oppose right-wing extrem­ism: ‘It is unthink­able what would hap­pen if secret infor­ma­tion about anti-fas­cist activ­i­ties falls into the hands of the extreme right via Austria’s con­ser­v­a­tive-far right gov­ern­ment.’ . . .”
  7. ” . . . . In Italy, far-right politi­cian Mat­teo Salvi­ni now serves as head of Italy’s inte­ri­or min­istry, which han­dles inter­nal secu­ri­ty and ter­ror­ism. . . . ”

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