Orwell’s ‘1984’ in today’s Austria

In Austria’s presidential election next week between the two finalists, Norbert Hofer of the Freedom Party and Alexander Van der Bellen of the Green Party, Orwell has come back to life.

December 1, 2016 20:57
4 minute read.
PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION campaign posters of Alexander Van der Bellen (left) and Norbert Hofer are seen

PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION campaign posters of Alexander Van der Bellen (left) and Norbert Hofer are seen in Vienna.. (photo credit: REUTERS)

In the perverted world of George Orwell’s 1984, ruled by propaganda and brainwashing, lies are truth and truth is lies. Slavery is freedom and vice versa. In Austria’s presidential election next week between the two finalists, Norbert Hofer of the Freedom Party and Alexander Van der Bellen of the Green Party, Orwell has come back to life. Darkness has overtaken the denials and lies against Hofer and the Freedom Party that backs him.

The Freedom Party, the largest in Austria according to all the surveys, is impugned by the Brussels establishment due to the reservations of “hitchhikers” on its rotten bureaucracy and to the methods of the European Union, and primarily due to the party’s opposition to Austria and Europe being flooded with unfiltered and unvetted immigrants.

Truthfully, while welcoming decent Muslims who are genuinely interested in being absorbed in Austrian society and culture, the Freedom Party opposes the uncontrolled stream of immigrants who bring with them extreme Islamist beliefs, riding Trojan horses in the guise of kindergartens and schools that educate toward taking over the absorbing community via jihad, bowing down to shahid “martyrs” and teaching hatred of Israel and Jews.

Green Party candidate Van der Bellen exults in his support for opening the gates wide to Middle East refugees, with whom he identifies, in his words because of his being a “refugee child” himself, the son of Estonians who fled to Austria at the height of the Second World War.

However, there are those who differ with this melodramatic presentation by the candidate of the Left for the Austrian presidency. More and more of the Austrian media have recently claimed that Van der Bellen’s scenario is utterly false. According to these reports, Van der Bellen was never a member of a refugee family during the Third Reich, but part of a family that served the Nazis. According to these reports, Van der Bellen’s father was a highly ranked and very active Nazi agent.

The true story of Van der Bellen’s family reveals that the presidential candidate’s father, Alexander Van der Bellen Sr., was born in Russia, whence he fled after the Bolshevik revolution to neighboring Estonia, where he received Estonian citizenship and earned a living as the manager of a large British bank in Tallinn. Following the 1940 Soviet takeover of Estonia, the senior Van der Bellen and his family fled straight to the Third Reich, which recognized them immediately as Russians of German nationality.

This had no basis in reality, but the Germans placed them without delay in a pleasant apartment in Vienna.

Furthermore, instead of drafting the father into the Nazi army, as was the custom among immigrants who were recognized as German nationals and as required by the compulsory conscription law of the Third Reich, the authorities appointed Van der Bellen to a senior administrative position in a Viennese company specializing in foreign trade.

Later on, as the Red Army approached Vienna, the Nazi authorities, determined not to let Van der Bellen be captured by the Soviets, transferred him and his family from the shelled-shocked city further west, to the picturesque and safer Tyrol district on the borders with Switzerland and Italy, housing them in a historic Customs House.

It was the former governor of Tyrol, Herwig van Staa, a member of the Conservative Party, who said already in 2007 that there were rumors that the senior Van der Bellen was a “senior Nazi.” He demanded that the Greens leader of the time, Van der Bellen Jr., provide details of his father’s conduct during the Third Reich, and even clarify whether he, as a result of his father’s activities, had contacts with elements in the old regime. Van der Bellen strongly denied the accusation and even demanded that Staa apologize, but in the absence of an apology has still not filed a libel suit against Staa.

Actually, the principal omission in this story belongs to Van der Bellen Sr.

All that was required of him in this context was a suitable admission, but more important in our context, Van der Bellen Jr. definitely continues along the path of antisemites who sought to compensate for their loss of legitimacy after Auschwitz by targeting the Jews with direct antisemitic incitement, after the establishment of the Jewish state three years after the world discovered the atrocities committed by the Nazis.

Van der Bellen Jr., the loving son of “liberal” Europe, again expresses through the media and in parliamentary debates the most severe criticism of the Jewish state regarding the conflict with the Palestinian people, by displaying “understanding” of Hamas’s terrorism against it.

In contrast, the right-wing Hofer has been known all along for his pro-Jewish and pro-Israel political activity.

His struggle to recognize the place of Judaism at the Western Wall was his political calling card up until his candidacy for the presidency. Hofer, as an Austrian parliamentary president, led a delegation that came to express solidarity with the Israeli nation during 2014’s Operation Protective Edge, and in the midst of Hamas rocket attacks visited Sderot, Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon, and the war rooms of Ashkelon and Ashdod.

Against such a background, it is not surprising that, just as in Orwell’s 1984, the superficial and dilettantish media, the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, and parts of the Jewish community, depict Van der Bellen both as an friend of Israel as well as the prince of light trying to stem the forces of darkness of this strange “Nazi” Norbert Hofer.

Despite getting the cold shoulder from parts of the Jewish establishment, Hofer stubbornly and annoyingly continues to condemn the atrocities of the Holocaust and its deniers, and to shower love on Israel and the Jews.

The writer is chairman of Herut.

Translated by Ilan Chaim.

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