Jerusalem – The Simon Wiesenthal Center today renewed its call for the resignation of Tyrol governor Herwig Van Staa in the wake of his attempts yesterday to falsify the Nazi past of former Innsbruck deputy mayor Ferdinand Obenfeldner. (Late last week, the Center’s chief Nazi-hunter Israel director Dr. Efraim Zuroff had called for Van Staa’s resignation following revelations that he and other local political leaders had celebrated Obenfeldner 90th birthday despite his wartime past as a Gestapo operative in Innsbruck.)
According to press reports, Van Staa yesterday defended his links to the former deputy mayor by claiming that Obenfeldner had “never served in the Gestapo or lied regarding his biography,” in total contradiction to all available historical documentation. Zuroff called Van Staa’s statements, as reported by the Austrian media, “absolutely shocking and incomprehensible,” and sufficient basis for his immediate resignation.
According to Zuroff:
“Perhaps in Austria, which continues to this day to serve as a haven for Nazi war criminals such as Milivoj Ašner and Erna Wallisch, it is acceptable practice for political leaders to cover up the Nazi past of their colleagues, but we find such behavior exceptionally reprehensible. Van Staa’s fabrications cannot erase the fact that Obenfeldner was a Gestapo operative who took part in the anti-Jewish operation in Innsbruck on Kristallnacht, that he was a member of the SS, and served in a Wehrmacht unit which participated in heinous war crimes in Greece and Italy. If Van Staa thinks that such a record is praiseworthy, he obviously does not deserve to wield political power.”
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