30 Jan 2018

Austrian artists publicly oppose the popularization of Nazi songs 

More than 100 writers and artists have signed an open letter condemning the songbook of the student fraternity Germania zu Wiener Neustadt as blatant "neo-Nazi propaganda". A prominent FPÖ politician turns out to be the deputy chairman of Germania. 

Christine Tragler
Christine Tragler Der Standard, Austria
Source: Der Standard
artists publicly oppose the popularization of Nazi songs  - NewsMavens
A neo-Nazi. Wikimedia Commons

Why this story matters:

The artists, including Nobel Prize winner Elfriede Jelinek, believe that the songbook contains racist and fascist lyrics that cannot be interpreted as anything other than a call for violence. They also mock the Holocaust. Hence, in an open later, the signatories declare:

“These songs pursue no artistic vision -- they serve solely the ideological purpose of reviving and bolstering National Socialist ideology. In short, they are neo-Nazi propaganda and hate speech."

Indeed, the 300-page songbook speaks for itself with lyrics such as this one, alluding to the 6 million Jews killed in the Holocaust:

“In their midst comes the Jew Ben Gurion: Step on the gas, you ancient Germanic peoples, we’ll manage the seventh million.”

The deputy co-chairman of Germania zu Wiener Neustadt fraternity is Udo Landbauer, a prominent FPÖ politician. The case of the songbook is first and foremost a disgrace to him and any other politician involved, yet it is also an example of the dilemma that the far-right faces today.

Traditionally, many members of the FPÖ aligned themselves with fraternities like Germania and represented their interests. However, since they now are part of the national government and thus the political mainstream, the support of such fraternities can be more of a burden than benefit.

politics, racism, scandal

Details from the story:

  • The open letter was signed by more than 100 artists, among them Erni Mangold, Ruth Beckemann, Karl Markovics, Erwin Wurm, Peter Weibel, Peter Rosei, Arno Geiger, Franzobel, Michael Heltau, Paul Hochgatterer, Michael Köhlmeier and Hubert von Goisern.
  • The public prosecutor's office is conducting an investigation on the hate speech and Nazi rhetoric in the songbook.
  • The scandal occurred in the midst of state election in Lower Austria, where Germania’s deputy co-chairman, Udo Landbauer, was one of FPÖ’s top candidates.
  • The election, that took place last Sunday, ending with a victory of Johanna Mikl-Leitner from the Austrian People's Party (ÖVP).
  • Although Landbauer’s spokesman claimed that he had not seen the version of the songbook that included these particular songs, the FPÖ has not confirmed whether the politician will join the state government.
  • Johanna Mikl-Leitner had already declared that she did not want to work with Landbauer.
  • Federal President Alexander Van der Bellen had called on Landbauer before the election to resign, which the FPÖ deemed an interference in the campaign.
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