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June 2, 2020 2:06 pm

Former Vice-Chancellor of Austria Accused of Penning Antisemitic Dedication in Nazi-Era Book

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avatar by Ben Cohen

The handwritten dedication allegedly penned by Heinz-Christian Strache in an antisemitic tome from the Nazi era. Photo: Twitter.

A former vice-chancellor of Austria was accused on Tuesday of having penned a handwritten dedication railing against the “Jewish lust for power” on the title page of an antisemitic screed from the Nazi era.

An investigation by the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper concluded that the handwriting — inside a book that was given as personal gift during the early 1990s — belonged to Heinz-Christian Strache, the 50-year-old former leader of Austria’s far-right Freedom Party (FPO).

Strache served as the deputy of the current Austrian chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, in a right-wing coalition government that lasted from December 2017 until May 2019.

A handwriting expert who examined the dedication told the Süddeutsche Zeitung that he was “99.99 percent certain” that the handwriting belonged to Strache.

The dedication appeared on the title page of the book “Jewish confessions from all times and lands” —  a propaganda tome written by Hans Jonak von Freyenwald and published in 1941 by the viciously antisemitic Nazi tabloid Der Stürmer.

The dedication reportedly written by Strache described Jews as “opponents” with a “lust for power.” He also transcribed a quote from Ernst Moritz Arndt, an antisemitic German historian, and a poem by the Austrian Nazi Joseph Heiss. The dedication signed off with the flourish “Heil Jul!” — a reference to the Nordic “Yule” festival.

The recipient of the book, who has not been named, is said to have been another far-right politician.

Speaking through his lawyer, Strache denied knowledge of both the book and the handwritten dedication inside. He distanced himself from the sentiments expressed “without reservation,” adding that he rejected antisemitism “out of deep conviction” and pointing to his record of support for the State of Israel.

A controversial figure in Austrian politics over three decades, Strache was forced to resign as vice-chancellor last May. A video of Strache meeting with a Russian businesswoman on the Spanish island of Ibiza in the summer of 2017  emerged that showed him promising business favors in exchange for support for the FPO’s campaign in the election of October that year. Expelled from the FPO over the corruption allegations, he now heads a new political party called the “Strache List.”

Strache’s links to the extreme right have been the subject of media attention before this latest scandal.

In 2012, he was strongly criticized by Austria’s Jewish community for posting antisemitic caricatures on his Facebook page.

And as a young man in the 1980s, Strache was accused of having participated in exercises organized by neo-Nazi paramilitaries — a charge he has consistently denied.

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