Text size

Vienna - A member of the right-wing nationalist Freedom Party of Austria (FPOe) was forced to quit the party late Tuesday after making inflammatory statements about the existence of gas chambers used in Nazi death camps during the Holocaust.

John Gudenus, a member of Austria's Federal Council, the upper chamber in the bicameral Federal Assembly, announced that he would leave the party but would not relinquish his legislative seat.

In an interview aired Monday night by Austrian broadcaster ORF, Gudenus said there should not be "taboos" about gas chambers. Instead, there should be "physical and scientific examination", and questions should not be answered with a simple "yes or no", he said.

In 1995, Gudenus was forced to resign his seat in the lower National Council after making controversial remarks about Nazi-era gas chambers.

Spokesmen for Austria's other major parties have called for Gudenus to quit his legislative seat.

The news agency APA quoted Gudenus as saying that his comments in the ORF program were intentionally misinterpreted. He said that he has "never denied the crimes against humanity that occurred during the Third Reich.