A state election candidate for the far-right Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ) is under pressure after he was linked to a Nazi songbook celebrating the Holocaust.
Falter magazine reported that Udo Landbauer is deputy chair of the Germania zu Wiener Neustadt student fraternity, which published the book. Falter wrote that, in a chilling reference to the Holocaust and the first Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, lyrics of one song read, "In their midst comes the Jew Ben-Gurion: 'Step on the gas, old Germanics, we can make it to seven million'."
Other songs in the book reference Nazi Germany's Condor Legion – responsible for the bombing of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War – and celebrate paratroopers responsible for a massacre of civilians in Crete in World War Two.
Landbauer is a candidate for the FPÖ in elections in Lower Austria being held on 28 January. In a statement, he denied any involvement, explaining, "When this book was printed I was 11 years old." He went on to say that "neither I or the FPÖ have anything to do with anti-Semitism, xenophobia or totalitarianism." Landbauer said he would immediately freeze his membership of the fraternity.
In November 2017, Landbauer referred to his state election opponent Johanna Mikl-Leitner as "Muslim-mummy-Mikl" based on her support for what he called "multi-cultural madness", The Local Austria reported. Landbauer's own mother is Iranian.
The far-right populist FPÖ party is the third largest in Austria, taking 26% of the vote in the October 2017 elections. No party had an overall majority, so a coalition government composed of the conservative Austrian People's Party (ÖVP) and the FPÖ took power.
Formed by former Nazis in the 1950s, the FPÖ has sought to distance itself from anti-Semitism and xenophobia in recent times.
Austrian political analyst Thomas Hofer told IBTimes UK, "There is a certain tradition of anti-Semitism in this (and also other) party/parties, but especially in the FPÖ."
He continued, "The party leadership under [Heinz-Christian] Strache and [Herbert] Kickl tried to limit the amount of such incidents and wanted to foster relationships with Israel (and find some common ground when it came to fighting Islamists). But the Jewish community, at least in Austria, didn't buy into that."
"Every single case like Landbauer right now is reviving the old playbook of the FPÖ," Hofer said.
Landbauer is now facing calls to step down from across the Austrian political spectrum. The Local Austria reported that Bernhard Ebner, the head of the ÖVP, said the allegations were "unbelievably serious", while the centre-left Social Democrats said Landbauer should resign immediately.
Austrian Chancellor and ÖVP Chairman Sebastian Kurz also took to Twitter to condemn the songbook as "racist, anti-Semitic and absolutely repugnant", saying that "there cannot be a place for that in our country". Kurz has previously defended his party's coalition with the FPÖ, saying the party should be judged on its current actions, not its past.
On 11 January, interior minister (and former member of the Austrian national council) Herbert Kickl was the subject of controversy when he suggested asylum seekers "should be concentrated in one place". The comments drew accusations of intentional reference to Nazi concentration camps.