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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 [6], we highlighted a story [7] 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 [7], 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 [8] 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 [9] (Major General) in the SS.[1] [10] Having initially joined the SS in December 1938 (with the membership number 292,775)[2] [11] 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 [12], 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 [7]:

  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 [13] (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. . . . “