The Austrian Union of Jewish Students (JöH) has sued the leader of the the far-right Freedom Party (FPÖ), for trivialising the Holocaust during an interview with the Austrian national broadcaster ORF.
Confronted with the fact that people compared themselves to Jews during demonstrations against COVID-19 measures during a TV interview, Kickl said that “National Socialism did not begin with a world war and not with any extermination camps, but it began with the fact that people were systematically excluded. It began, for example, by not allowing children to go to school because they were of Jewish descent.”
This statement is not only “morally reprehensible, but also criminally relevant,” JöH argued in a statement. In their opinion, Kickl’s remarks amount to a violation of the Prohibition Act of 1947 (VerbotsG), which criminalises the gross trivialization of the Nazi genocide and other Nazi crimes against humanity in Austria.
“The comparison with the Nazi regime and the constant and open trivialization of the Shoah are a deliberate tactic and pave the way for the normalization of antisemitism and historical relativization,” said JöH President Sashi Turkof.
Bini Guttmann, a co-plaintiff of the suit and a member of the Executive Committee of the World Jewish Congress, called Kickl and the FPÖ “intellectual arsonists of [coronavirus] demonstrations and antisemitic Holocaust relativisation.”
Kickl’s statements have also sparked criticism from the Jewish community of Vienna (IKG), Austria’s EJC affiliate.
IKG President Oskar Deutsch denounced the remarks “dangerous and shameful” and added that the FPÖ leader contributes to trivialising National Socialism and spreading unscientific nonsense that can cost people their lives.”