VIENNA (Jul. 24)
Officials of Austria’s Liberal Party today rebuked “unconscious anti-Semitic” statements of their own right-wing mem- ber Hans Klement, who said he. would never co-operate with a Jewish politician. However, Tas-silo Broesigke, chairman-of the Viennese section of the Liberals, indicated that Klement would not be expelled from the party, because “other politicians of other parties made similar statements in the past without being expelled.”
Klement, a former member of the National Socialist underground movement before the Nazi takeover in Austria in 1938 like many other leading politicians of the Liberal Party, said last week in an interview with the Austrian magazine, “Profil,” that his education, his basic points of view and “emotional reasons” bar him from cooperation with Socialist Chancellor Bruno Kreisky in a possible Social-Liberal government after the next general elections.
Denying he was an anti-Semite. Klement, who is now vice-chairman of the Viennese Party section, said, some “unconscious anti-Semitism” along with a “broad ideological gap” prevented him from cooperation with a Socialist Jewish politician. Broesigke rebuked his deputy for this statement but hinted there would be no “ostracism” against Klement.
Friedrich Peter, former staff officer of the Nazi SS and now chairman of the Liberal Party, officially rejected Klement’s statements. “There are no racial, religious or ethnic discriminations in the Liberal Party.” Peter told journalists. According to party sources, Peter was seeking to pave the way for a possible Social-Liberal government coalition after the 1975 general elections.
Klement, referring to his party leader’s plan, termed this “mere opportunism.” He added, “I can’t imagine that a man with the former position as SS – Obersturmbannfuehrer like Peter could really change his political opinions this way.”