VIENNA - Top Austrian politicians at the weekend condemned remarks by right-wing Freedom Party (FP) ombudsman Ewald Stadler who equated Austria's Nazi era with its post-World War II occupation by the Allies.
Stadler's remarks at a mid-summer celebration became publicly known last week when Austrian television quoted him as saying that many Austrians had seen the May 1945 Nazi capitulation not as liberation, but "a change of occupation", and that he himself could not say which had been worse, the Nazis or the Allies.
According to Stadler, a former FP leader in parliament, "Austria was allegedly liberated from fascism and tyranny," but "real freedom" came not at the end of the Nazi regime in 1945, but ten years later when the Allies withdrew.
A chorus of outrage arose from all parties, including critical voices in Stadler's own party.
Social Democrat leader in parliament Heinz Fischer on television Sunday called Stadler's words "unacceptable", and said freedom was "nothing alleged" for those saved from Nazi death camps.
"It would be good if someone who thinks like that about our country and history resigns," Fischer added.
"Ewald Stadler seems to lack any awareness of Austrian history and the responsibility of a high representative in public life," said General Secretary of the conservative People's Party Maris Rauch-Kallat.
"In 1945 Austria was freed from war, fascism and destruction. The occupation by the Allies was the foundation for the independent and democratic country in which we now live," Rauch-Kallat said, adding that there was "urgent need for action" by the Stadler's Freedom Party.
The FP's deputy leader Hubert Gorbach said the remarks were "not to be tolerated, and completely wrong", but avoided directly calling on Stadler to resign.
Freedom Party founder Jorg Haider however said he saw no reason for Stadler to resign.
"I would like him to clarify that he did not make any comparison between systems of unfreedom," Haider said. "The fact is that freedom after 1945 looked like we had a little bit of unfreedom again."
Stadler along with fellow FP politician Wolfgang Jung spoke at a May 8 Liberation Day rally of far-right student fraternities in central Vienna.
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