Austria’s anti-immigrant nationalist party, running second in nationwide popularity polls, attacked the capital’s decision to strip an anti-Semitic mayor’s name from one of Vienna’s busiest roads.
Freedom Party leader Heinz-Christian Strache accused Vienna’s ruling Social Democrats of perpetuating an “outrage” and forcing “political re-education” on its citizens. The city of 1.7 million people changed the name of part of the road circling the capital to University Ring from Karl-Lueger-Ring.
Lueger was Vienna’s Christian-Social Party mayor from 1897 until his death in 1910. While Lueger is credited with creating some of Vienna’s key infrastructure, his legacy is tarnished by anti-Semitism. He demonized Vienna’s Jewish minority to build political support among the city’s disparate immigrant community.
“Anti-Semitic verbal incitement by politicians like Karl Lueger paved the way for the racial anti-Semitism of the Nazis,” Oskar Deutsch, president of Jewish Community of Vienna, said today in a statement. “This should also be a warning to politicians of our day” who speak in “reckless and reprehensible ways with anti-Semitic, racist and xenophobic slogans.”
Strache’s Freedom Party is in second place in Austrian opinion polls. He complained in January that his party has become the “new Jews” because of the protests that it confronts, Vienna’s Der Standard newspaper reported.
Lueger’s name will remain on one Vienna square, four monuments, three commemorative plaques, one palace and a church, Social Democratic spokesman Ernst Woller said today in a statement.