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May 16, 2023 12:07 pm

Austrian Cops Arrest Suspects Who Played Hitler Speech Over Train Intercom

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An Austrian OBB train is seen arriving in Vienna. Photo: Reuters/Daniel Scharinger.

Austrian police have arrested two people who caused outrage over the weekend by playing an Adolf Hitler speech and crowds chanting Nazi slogans over the intercom of a passenger train.

The incident occurred on Sunday, on a train traveling from the western city of Bregenz to the capital Vienna. Instead of travel announcements, shocked passengers were subjected to audio of a Hitler speech followed by a crowd chanting the Nazi slogans “Sieg Heil” and “Heil Hitler.”

The two unidentified suspects were tracked down through analysis of video recorded on the train’s cameras. Spreading Nazi propaganda is a criminal offense in Austria, which was incorporated into the Nazi German Third Reich in 1938.

The suspects are believed to have opened the train conductors’ intercom cabins with a key all train employees own, and then played the recordings, the Austrian news agency APA reported.

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The two are also suspected of responsibility for two other incidents last week on trains running from St. Poelten to Vienna, in which recordings were played over the train intercom, the Associated Press reported. It was not clear if those recordings also had a Nazi connotation.

David Stoegmueller — a Green Party parliamentarian who was traveling on the train — told the BBC that the offending audio was played shortly before arrival in Vienna.

“We heard two episodes,” he said. “First there was 30 seconds of a Hitler speech, and then I heard ‘Sieg Heil’.”

Stoegmueller said the train staff were unable to stop the recording and were unable to make their own announcements. “One crew member was really upset,” he added.

He said he had later received an email from a man who was on the train with an elderly woman who was a concentration camp survivor. “She was crying,” he said.

Stoegmueller added that another passenger remarked that when trains in other countries had technical problems, it involved the air conditioning breaking down.

“In Austria, the technical problem is Hitler,” the same passenger quipped.

The incident comes just a day after a report showed that the number of violent antisemitic attacks in Austria increased during 2022 to historic highs. A total of 719 antisemitic incidents were recorded, which included 14 physical assaults  — an increase on the 12 assaults reported in 2021, the year that holds the record for the most antisemitic outrages in Austria.

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