The Vienna city government moved to protect a statue of a former mayor who made antisemitic statements.
The fencing this week of the statue of Karl Lueger was aimed at preventing protesters from continuing to spray graffiti calling for its removal, AFP reported Thursday. The municipality plans to clean the statue on the Austrian capital’s central Ringstrasse boulevard this week.
Lueger served as mayor of Vienna for 13 years until his death in 1910 at the age of 65. He was known for antisemitic rhetoric that is said to have inspired Adolf Hitler, who lived in Vienna as a young man and wrote in “Mein Kampf” that he had “undisguised admiration” for Lueger.
The statue “belongs on the manure heap of history” or in a museum, Simon Nagy, an artist who helped start a vigil in protest of the statue and the municipality’s plan for cleaning it.
Lueger suffered multiple career setbacks due to his frequent fulminations against Jews. In one such speech, delivered to members of the Christian-Social Workers’ Association in Vienna on July 20, 1899, Leuger invoked the kind of antisemitic rhetoric that would later be employed by the Nazis.
“The influence on the masses is in the hands of the Jews among us, the largest part of the press is in their hands, the vast majority of capital and especially big business is in the hands of the Jews, and the Jews practice terrorism here,” he said. “How can one think of this without anger?! In Austria above all, this is about the liberation of the Christian people from the domination of Judaism.”