Is Austrian presidential challenger a Nazi sympathizer?


BERLIN (JTA) — Austrian politics is roiling over the question of whether the lone challenger to Austria’s president in the upcoming election is a Nazi sympathizer.

Barbara Rosenkranz, 51, was nominated last week as a presidential candidate from Austria’s far-right Freedom Party (FPO) to oppose President Heinz Fischer of the Social Democratic Party in his re-election bid on April 25.

Earlier this week, Rosenkranz announced that contrary to rumors, she never has questioned Austria’s law banning Nazi organizations and ideology, and Holocaust denial. Rather, she said, she condemns Nazi crimes.

But according to the daily Tages-Anzeiger, only a week earlier Rosenkranz called for the law to be repealed.

Asked if she believed that the Nazis killed victims in gas chambers, she did not answer.

Critics called her about-face this week — in which she signed a statement against Nazism and had it notarized while TV cameras rolled — a political ploy.

"These kinds of statements are usually not even worth the paper they are written on," Stephen Kramer, secretary-general of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, told the Austrian daily Standard.

Kramer said he suspected Rosenkranz sought to follow in the footsteps of the late far-right Austrian politician Joerg Haider as a uniter of right-wing populists across Europe.

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