VIENNA (Mar. 5)
The first episode of the NBC-TV film series “Holocaust,” screened on State owned television last Thursday night, drew a mixed reaction from viewers. Officials reported that the record 1500 telephone calls received at the studios were divided about evenly for and against the showing. Newspaper polls showed a similar division.
Police threw a security cordon around the television studios during the broadcast to prevent threatened right wing demonstrations but no incidents were reported. In Graz in the south of Austria, leaflets were distributed, presumably by right wing organizations, calling the Holocaust “the biggest lie in history.”
In contrast to West Germany, where the film made a tremendous impact when it was shown in January, many Austrians appeared querulous about the reminder of their Nazi past. Austria was occupied by the Nazis in 1938 when a vast majority of the populace approved of the Anschluss. A number of Austrian Nazis played leading roles in the extermination of Jews.
Chancellor Bruno Kreisky, addressing a Socialist Party convention in Linz last Thursday, said the series should prompt discussion of the roots of the horrors of Nazi rule in Europe. “We have to make sure that it will not happen again. We must talk sensibly with each other and not look silently,” he said.
He was also quoted as saying that the Nazi ascent to power in the 1930s should be viewed in the perspective of the economic miseries of the people in Germany and Austria at the time. “Neither nationalism nor chauvinism, including Jewish chauvinism, will help solve the problem of anti-Semitism” said Kreisky, who is of Jewish origin.