A Holocaust survivor's plea to the people of Austria has gone viral ahead of the country's presidential election. Gertrude, known only by her first name, has appealed to Austrians not to allow the far-right Freedom Party to gain power.
The 89-year-old woman has said that the anti-migrant oratory of the far-right candidate Norbert Hofer reminded her of the horrors of the Nazi era. "It's the humiliation of others, the demonisation of others, that alarms me the most," she said in her Facebook post that has been viewed almost three million times.
She urged Austrians to elect Hofer's competitor as the Freedom Party "brings out the basest in people". Gertrude added that she has "seen this once before... and it hurts and scares me", referring to anti-Semitism in the 1930s.
When she was only 16, Gertrude and her family were deported to the Auschwitz death camp where an estimated 1.1 million people are said to have been murdered by Nazis. She was the only one among her family to survive.
"We have already seen that scenario. Like the Jews: they had to clean the streets. The Viennese, men, women and children, stood by and laughed. 'Look at that! Hahaha!' they said. And that's what they're trying to bring out in people again," Gertrude said.
She shared the video last Thursday (24 November) through Hofer's rival, Alexander Van der Bellen, an independent backed by the Green Party.
Austria's presidential vote re-run is on 4 December and if Hofer wins, he will be the European Union's first far-right head of state. Hofer's party, which has anti-immigrant overtones, was founded in 1955 by a former general in the Nazi SS.
"That's what bothers me the most ... no respect for others; they bring out the basest of people — not the decent, but the indecent. And it's not the first time something like this has happened," the Auschwitz survivor said.
She added that she was mainly afraid because of the comments from the Freedom Party's leader, Heinz-Christian Strache. In October he had spoken against the "uncontrolled influx of migrants alien to our culture who seep into our social welfare system", adding that "civil war in the medium-term [is] not unlikely".
"A shiver ran down my spine and I thought to myself: this should not even be mentioned, or even thought of," Gertrude said.
She added that 2016's election is probably going to be her last.
"I don't have much time left. But the young ones still have their whole life ahead of them. And they have to look after themselves and for a bright future," she said.
The December re-run of the presidential election was called after a high court supported a complaint, which stated that postal voting rules were broken in the May polls.
Van der Bellen had won the May election by just 30,863 votes.