The far-right candidate in Austria’s troubled presidential election wants the house where Hitler was born demolished as well as to improve relations with the Jewish community, according to comments published today.
“Well, the only options are turning (the site) into a memorial or tearing it down. If you ask me, I would be for demolishing it,” Norbert Hofer of the Freedom Party (FPOe) told the Austria Press Agency in an interview.
Earlier this year the Austrian government approved legislation forcibly expropriating the owner of the house in Braunau am Inn in northern Austria where the Nazi dictator was born in 1889.
This is to prevent the site becoming a neo-Nazi pilgrimage site. But it is unclear what will happen now. The building has protected status — not because of Hitler — so demolition is legally tricky.
Hofer also said hat he wants better relations with Austria’s Jewish community organisation, the IKG, representing Austria’s 15,000 Jews.
The IKG often accuses Hofer’s party — whose first leader in the 1950s was formerly in the SS — of having neo-Nazi and anti-Semitic sympathies, something the party denies.
Hofer said that if elected on October 2 — although the election looks likely to be postponed — he would “naturally” seek a rapprochement with the IKG.
“Problems exist in order to be resolved. And I think that I can handle relations (with the IKG) very, very well. This is a task that is of great interest and importance to me,” he said.
Regarding Austria’s Muslim community, Hofer said he wants an official German translation of the Koran so that non- Muslims “can understand this religious community better”.
He said though that if elected, he would not continue the tradition, introduced by the previous president, of hosting a reception for Muslims at the end of Ramadan in the Hofburg presidential palace.