European Interest

Austria’s far-right party unwelcome at Holocaust memorial

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An M8 Greyhound armored car of the US Army's 11th Armored Division entering the Mauthausen concentration camp on 6 May 1945.

Organisers of an upcoming ceremony to mark the liberation of the Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria have warned that ministers from the country’s far-right Freedom Party should stay away.

The annual ceremony, which will be held on May 6, takes place at the site of the camp in northern Austria in which 100,000 prisoners died.

As reported by the Agence France-Presse (AFP), the event comes just a few months after a government was formed between the centre-right People’s Party (OeVP) and the Freedom Party (FPOe), which was started after World War II and counted former Nazis among its founders.

The Mauthausen Committee Austria (MKOe), one of the organisers of the May 6 event, confirmed that FPOe politicians would not be welcome as has been the case for several years.

MKOe president Willi Mernyi told the Der Standard daily that the presence of FPOe ministers would be “an additional humiliation for the survivors”.

In response, the FPOe issued a statement saying that “such important commemorations on Austrian soil should be held free from party political calculations”.

Some 200,000 prisoners passed through Mauthausen, which was set up for “political enemies” of the Nazi regime and was one of its biggest forced labour camps.

The site was chosen for its proximity to a quarry where granite was extracted in appalling conditions. The camp was liberated by American troops on 5 May 1945.


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