(JTA) – The leader of an Austrian far-right political party was condemned for comparing protests by students in Vienna with the Nazi persecution of Jews during Kristallnacht.
The Anti-Defamation League on Monday slammed the comments made Jan. 27 by Austrian Freedom Party leader Heinz-Christian Strache in response to heckling from leftist and radical protesters outside the Wiener Korporations-Ball in Vienna.
Strache was overheard by a reporter for the daily Der Standard comparing the protests to Kristallnacht and saying “we are the new Jews.” In addition, a Strache associate reportedly said that “whoever works for this ball immediately gets a Jew star pinned on him.”
Some 2,600 demonstrators were protesting that the ball, which was organized by Strache’s far-right Freedom Party, was held on the same day as International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
ADL National Director Abraham Foxman said in a statement that “Strache mocked the victims of the Holocaust by comparing himself and his fellow extremists to Jews and invoking Kristallnacht to complain about the anti-fascist protests.”
Foxman added that “this trivialization is outrageous, but not surprising from Strache and his ilk. The victims of the Holocaust are entitled to respect and sympathy, which was shown around the world at commemorations of the greatest act of genocide.”
According to the ADL statement, the People’s Party and the Social Democratic Party — Austria’s governing coalition parties — both strongly condemned the statements made by Strache.
Vienna’s Jewish community called on the state prosecutor to launch an investigation into the comments, according to reports.