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Austrian Official Proposes Jail Term for Anyone Perpetuating Claim That the Holocaust Never Existed

April 24, 1985
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Interior Minister Karl Blecha proposed today punishment of up to one year in prison for anyone who perpetuates or disseminates the “Auschwitz lie,” the claim that the Holocaust never occurred.

He said at a press conference here that the Austrian penal code must be amended accordingly and that the same punishment be applied to anyone who approves, praises, minimizes or denies the crimes committed under the Nazi regime in Austria.

He would also close loopholes in existing laws which prevent some Jews from bringing legal action against anti-Semitic offenders.

Blecha said he raised the issue at a Jewish community center Holocaust memorial gathering here last week and hopes it will mark the beginning of a nationwide fight against rising neo-Nazi propaganda in Austria. According to the minister, the fight must be waged on two levels — by the police and through education. He thought that in the long run, the latter was the more effective.


He said that for many months, teachers and school principals have complained to police that neo-Nazi propaganda was being distributed outside of schools in Vienna, Linz, Klagenfurt and other cities. Although political propaganda is prohibited on school premises, the distribution of leaflets outside the schools is allowed under the law. He said the propaganda is so cleverly worded that the letter of the law is not violated.

Because the police and the courts are unable to act in such cases, the penal code required amendment, Blecha said. He noted that the penal code prohibits incitement against churches, religions and foreigners. But those Austrian Jews who are not religious are excluded from this protection. It is one of the loopholes he wants closed.

Blecha stressed that as Interior Minister he can only make proposals. The initiation of legislation must be either by the Minister of Justice or a parliamentary faction. He said the Socialist faction, headed by Chancellor Fred Sinowatz, may soon come up with a draft bill.

But Justice Minister Harold Ofner, a member of the Freedom Party, a coalition partner, cannot be relied upon for support. According to the book, “The Extreme Right in Austria,” Ofner is listed among those Austrians who have been supportive of neo-Nazis.


Blecha said neo-Nazi activists constitute a very small group in Austria, numbering no more than 180-200. But he could not estimate the number of sympathizers or the amount of financial and logistical support they receive from abroad. He said the West Germany authorities are cooperating closely with the Austrian authorities in that area.

Blecha listed some of the action his ministry has taken against neo-Nazism in Austria in recent years. He said that since May, 1983 when the present coalition government replaced former Chancellor Bruno Kreisky’s Socialist regime, four neo-Nazi organizations have been dissolved, 10 neo-Nazi meetings were banned, 18 non-Austrian neo-Nazis have been declared personae non gratae in Austria and 175 were reported to district attorneys.

Blecha also referred to the large neo-Nazi trial last year which ended with prison sentences for all of the accused, although several of the sentences were suspended.

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