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Awareness of right-wing extremism

Brochure "Individual cases and repeat offenders"

Just before the Austrian parliamentary elections in October 2017, the Mauthausen Committee Austria presented a total of 68 extreme right-wing activities of FPÖ politicians covering a period of about four and a half years. The documentation "Nothing but individual cases?" received a strong media response and led to a wide debate. Since then, the term "individual cases" has become commonplace for describing the continuous anti-democratic activities of the FPÖ.

Now, the Mauthausen Committee has followed up the individual cases that occurred since the parliamentary elections. After all, the FPÖ became a governing party in December 2017. Does the party fulfill its responsibilities in this regard? Is it more moderate now? Has the number of extreme right-wing activities in its ranks declined? Has at least the party leadership taken a step away from right-wing extremism? And does it really fight anti-Semitism?

The conclusions from the "Individual cases":

  • The number of extreme right-wing activities of FPÖ politicians did increase markedly. The Mauthausen committee was able to properly document a total of 68 individual cases in the period of about four and a half years before the parliamentary elections. In the half year since then there were 38. So, we can by no means say that the FPÖ as governing party became more moderate - on the contrary.
  • The new individual cases also occur at all levels of the FPÖ. Eight out of 38 can be assigned to members of the party leadership or members of the federal government. Four other cases can be assigned to close co-workers of FPÖ ministers.
  • Anti-Semitism in the FPÖ emerges much more publicly again. 14 new individual cases have connections to anti-Semitism, among others the song book scandals, the acceptance of the conspiracy theory against George Soros by Johann Gudenus and Heinz-Christian Strache as well as the support for media bringing anti-Semitic content.
  • The FPÖ continues to show a close proximity to Nazi ideology. 15 new individual cases demonstrate a National Socialist or neo-Nazi connection.
  • The FPÖ continues to incite against refugees and minorities. 19 new individual cases demonstrate the relevant connections.
  • The FPÖ continues to work closely with right-wing extremists in Austria and abroad. Many FPÖ politicians, especially from the leadership, are members of extreme right-wing fraternities. They are also in very good relation to the "identitarians", whose leaders were charged in May 2018 for the formation of a criminal organization, for incitement and other crimes. At EU level, the FPÖ has joined forces with parties such as the Front National to form the "Europe of Nations and Freedom" group. There is no indication that the governing FPÖ would like to terminate the close connections to the right-wing extremists in Austria and abroad.
  • The anti-democratic activities in the FPÖ only have consequences if they become publicly known and if the party leadership is afraid of disadvantages. In that case - as the example of the "Aula" magazine shows, which has been supported for decades by the FPÖ - also conflicts within the party may be the result. However, they prefer to deny or downplay the situations if possible.
  • Repeated affirmations of the FPÖ leaders, that they do not tolerate neo-Nazism or anti-Semitism, are completely unbelievable in view of the steady individual cases. It is very much likely that vice chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache would like to entirely replace the highly stressed concept of the enemy "Jew" with using "refugee" or "Muslim", which would be better communicable. But on the one hand, the transformation of concepts of the enemy does not change the underlying misanthropic attitude. And on the other hand, the anti-Semitic thinking patterns, which are close to the Nazi ideology and deeply rooted in the FPÖ and in the fraternities, prevent exactly this kind of change.

"Individual cases and repeat offenders" for download

Across Austria, in recent years the number of extreme right-wing and racist offences has risen dramatically. In a single year, the number of extreme right-wing and racist offences rose by 50%, from 750 (2014) to 1156 (2015). The continuous rise in the number of hate crimes began in 2005; the number then was 209. In the past ten years, this number rose by a factor of 5.5. Further, these crimes have become more brutal and violent.

Generally, extreme-right activities, groups, movements, organizations, etc. target people whom they define in terms of various attributes such as skin color, physique, ethnic origin, or their world-view, religious or sexual orientation. In other words, they target people who deviate from what the extremists consider to be the norm and whom they discriminate against as minorities with the goal of persecuting or even eliminating them. Simultaneously, right-wing extremists attempt to weaken or disable organizations, institutions and activists who advocate comprehensive integration, the creation of more options for democratic participation, and sociopolitical emancipation of all people. The right-wing scene has undergone changes over many years. It is not always easy to see who is a member of this scene. Their clothing has become cooler, with fashionable accessories and mainstream products instead of hooligan outfits. Their clothes bear youth-culture codes whose meaning is normally known only within the scene and serves to signal to others within the scene.

Mauthausen Committee Austria has been engaged for many years on a broad base against right-wing extremism by monitoring, informing, documenting and filing criminal charges.