Jerusalem – The Simon Wiesenthal Center today issued a public call for the immediate resignation of Tyrol Governor Herwig von Staa and other local political leaders in the wake of an event they recently organized to honor former Gestapo operative and Innsbruck deputy mayor Ferdinand Obenfeldner. Among the politicians who gathered in Innsbruck several weeks ago to honour the former SS-man on the occasion of his 90th birthday were Innsbruck mayor Hilde Zoch, the head of the Tyrolean SPÖ, Hannes Gschwentner, the chief of the SPÖ in Innsbruck, Ernst Pechlaner and local SPÖ-politician Marie-Luise Pokorny-Reitter.
In a statement issued today in Jerusalem by its chief Nazi-hunter, Israel director Dr. Efraim Zuroff, the Center expressed its anger and frustration that individuals whose deeds during the Nazi period should be publically repudiated, instead are honored by Austrian public figures, who clearly should be acting differently.
According to Zuroff:
“The fact that a person like Obenfeldner, who helped carry out the Kristallnacht pogrom in Innsbruck, in the course of which innocent Jews were murdered, and who is also suspected of participating in the killing of two Polish forced laborers was able to serve for more than 20 years as deputy mayor of Innsbruck and is still presented as a role model by local public figures clearly shows that Austria today remains a virtual paradise for Nazi war criminals. Such behavior makes it more than obvious why not a single Holocaust perpetrator has been successfully prosecuted in Austria in more than three decades and why the country is protecting escaped Croatian Nazi war criminal Milivoj Ašner (currently residing in Klagenfurt), whose extradition to stand trial for his wartime crimes in Požega has been requested more than a year ago by the Croatian judicial authorities.”
“The time has come for Austria not only to acknowledge the truth of extensive complicity in Nazi crimes by Austrians, but also to accept and implement the obvious practical implications,” said Zuroff.
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