This is a guest post by Karl Pfeifer
Martin Graf, a member of the extreme right “Olympia” organization, has been elected as the third president of the Austrian parliament with 109 votes (out of a total of 182).
Parliamentarians from the Green Party held up a poster declaring: “You have not learned the lessons of history.” As one who watched this spectacle live on television, I can say the election of this man is a shame for this country, which was only resurrected in 1945 because of the many Allied soldiers who gave their lives for its liberation.
FPÖ member Martin Graf, 48 years old, has attended extreme right-wing demonstrations on May 8 – according to the extreme right, on May 8,1945, when Nazi Germany surrendered, the occupation of Austria began. Graf is also a member of an extreme right wing student fraternity which once hosted a Neo-Nazi singer. Included in his repertoire was a song containing the lines, “fun starts after 6 million Jews are killed.”
Only one day after a tram conductor who greeted the guests of a Vienna tram with the Nazi “Sieg Heil” was removed from duty, Martin Graf has been elected to one of the most senior positions in a country which is apparently so proud of its anti-Fascist constitution.
We can hear all kind of noble declarations in parliament concerning how Austria condemns National Socialism. For example, Austrian chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer declared in 2000: “The SPÖ (Social-Democratic party) has established in its program, in its history as an Anti-Fascist party deeply connected with democracy, which rejects National Socialism and its crimes resolutely.” But it’s quite different in practise.
Such declarations are spoken, as we say in Austria, “out of the window,” meaning that they are mainly for foreign consumption. The same can be said about some of the declarations heard today in Austrian parliament.
Karl Öllinger, a Green MP, has published a dossier about the Austrian extreme right, including “Olympia.” Öllinger sent his dossier to all members of parliament. Despite its contents, the Austrian parliament has elected with majority Martin Graf the nominee of the extreme right FPÖ. Only the Greens and a few other members of parliament opposed it.
It is necessary to shed light on the activities of Graf, who is – despite all the facts known about Olympia – still a member of that organization.
Members of Olympia do not like to speak in public and when they speak they keep quiet about a lot of things. They prefer to let their guests speak or sing. One can not find their publication (”Der Olympe”) in a public library and their website is offline. But Graf has made statements such as this one: “Today’s state borders were drawn arbitrarily; the German people (”Volkstum”) must be free to spread out in Europe” (Der Spiegel 24/97, S. 54.)
Various far-right activities are punishable under Austrian criminal law; open support of National Socialism and advocacy of Nazi objectives are prohibited by legislation dating from 1947. Amendments to the laws approved in February 1992 widened the scope of prohibited activity to include denial of the Holocaust or “trivialization” of Nazi genocide. Martin Graf remarked on this law: “In a democratic world it should be permitted to criticize a law that restricts the freedom of speech and political activity.” (Format 21/00, S. 50)
But Graf finds it difficult to speak about the Holocaust. Interviewed on Austrian TV earlier this month, the following exchange took place:
Martin Graf on Austrian TV ( ZiB 2) on 1.10. 2008 interviewed by Armin Wol):
Armin Wolf: “So you do not doubt like your long standing party colleague John Gudenus that in the gas chambers millions of Jews were assassinated in the German Reich?”
Martin Graf: “I do not doubt, that masses have been annihilated, yes.”
Armin Wolf: “This is somehow a different formulation. I have asked you about millions of Jews. You have said now – masses annihilated. The million you doubt?”
Martin Graf: “If you so wish, millions yes, I said masses…”
Armin Wolf asked explicitly about millions of Jews assassinated in the gas chambers. Martin Graf does not take a stand on the millions of Jews who were murdered in gas chambers. This is the decisive point for the Holocaust deniers like Irving, who deny the existence of gas chambers and the planned murder of millions of Jews. They admit only the rampant epidemics in the concentration camps.
Why did Martin Graf not say a word about the gas chambers and the millions of murdered Jews?
Graf’s extremist pedigree goes back many years. He was a steward at a lecture given by the German Neo-Nazi Reinhold Oberlercher in 1987 at an institute of Vienna University, where Oberlercher called Jews “disease-causing agents.”
The Documentation Centre of Austrian Resistance (DÖW) has long characterized Olympia as an extreme right organization. The invitation of well known Neo-Nazi and Holocaust deniers to Olympia demonstrates the spirit reigning there.
- The British Holocaust-denier David Irving was on his way to deliver a speech to Olympia (on “Adolf Eichmann’s negotiations with Jewish leaders in Hungary”) when he was arrested on November 11, 2005. He was sentences on the terms of the law forbidding Nazi activities by an Austrian court.
- Jörg Hähnel, leader of the extreme-right German NPD in Berlin, was invited on January 26, 2008 to Olympia. In January 2007, Hähnel defended the Nazi legal system. In May 2007, he carried a cudgel on a visit to the Landtag (parliament) of Mecklenburg. And just recently he was fined 4,500 Euros in Berlin for justifying the assassination of the communist Rosa Luxemburg.
- On November 20, 2004 Olympia was jointly responsible for the performance of Michael Müller, a functionary of NPD. He wrote and performed the following song:
“With 6 million Jews just begins the fun,
Until 6 million Jews the oven is turned on,
(…).(…) we have plenty of Zyklon B. (…)(…)
At 6 million Jews, for a long time it is not over.”
Mit 6 Millionen Juden da fängt der Spaß erst an,
bis 6 Millionen Juden da bleibt der Ofen an.
(…),(…) wir haben reichlich Zyklon B.(…)(…)
bei 6 Millionen Juden, ist noch lange nicht Schluss.
- Frank Rennicke, an extreme right-wing singer, is founding member of the “Association of the Persecuted because of Holocaust Denial” ( “Vereins zur Rehabilitierung der wegen Bestreitens des Holocaust Verfolgten. “) Rennicke was featured in the publication of Olympia, “Der Olympe,” which is edited by Martin Graf.
On May 7, 2008 the German Ministry of Internal Affairs banned Rennicke’s organization and closed their wesbite. The reason? “The aims and activities of this organization are contrary to the criminal law and are directed against the constitutional order of the German Federal Republic. The activity consisted of antisemitic propaganda, Holocaust denial and glorification of the National Socialist terror regime.”
In the Proclamation of the Second Republic of Austria of April 27, 1945 we find this remarkable passage: “The National Socialist Reich government of Adolf Hitler had on account of the complete political, economic, and cultural annexation of the country, led the people of Austria – rendered powerless and impotent (macht und willenlos) – into a senseless and hopeless war of conquest that no Austrian ever wanted, or was in a position to foresee and approve, for the waging of war against nations against whom no true Austrian had ever harbored feelings of hostility or hatred.”
We know that this was a brazen lie; many Austrians were also perpetrators.
Whatever Austrian politicians declare this time, there can be no doubt that, with Graf’s election as President of Austria’s parliament, this country now has a senior political figure who is a member of an extreme right organization.