Austrian far-right minister quits over anti-Semitic literature at old fraternity

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Austrian far-right minister quits over anti-Semitic literature at old fraternity

Udo Landbauer said he'd quit over offensive poems about Jews included in a songbook of the Germania zu Wiener Neustadt group

Udo Landbauer
Udo Landbauer

An Austrian Cabinet minister from the far-right Freedom Party resigned following the discovery of anti-Semitic literature at his old university fraternity.

Udo Landbauer, who was 11 when offensive poems about Jews were included in a songbook of the Germania zu Wiener Neustadt fraternity, said Thursday he would leave politics.

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz last week called for punishing with the “the full severity of the law” the authors of an anti-Semitic poem that appeared in the songbook.

The poem, which was printed in 1997, read: “In their midst comes the Jew Ben-Gurion: ‘Step on the gas, you ancient Germanic peoples, we’ll manage the seventh million.”

Kurz spoke out about the booklet Wednesday in a statement following a report earlier this week on it by the Austrian Falter weekly magasine. Racist hate speech is illegal in Austria.

The Germania zu Wiener Neustadt fraternity said the person who was responsible for the poem has been identified and excluded for any membership in the organisation.

Austrian officials have said they are looking into disbanding and outlawing the fraternity.

The Freedom Party was founded by a former Nazi officer, but has long fought accusations of tolerating anti-Semitism in its ranks. It entered the government in December after elections in October.

Interior Minister Herbert Kickl, who also belongs to the Freedom Party, told the Austrian Press Agency that Landbauer would not be exposed to legal action over the booklet.

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