As a scandal involving the German politician Hubert Aiwanger unfolds in the wake of the revelation that he possessed, and possibly authored or distributed, an antisemitic flyer in high school, Aiwanger insists he “was never an antisemite,” Algemeiner reported on Thursday.
On the final Saturday in August, Reuters reported the scandal had broken that day by the German media outlet, Sueddeutsche Zeitung.
Aiwanger, who is now 52, immediately denied that he had written the document three and half decades prior, in 1987, when he was a 17-year-old high school student.
Several of Aiwanger’s former schoolmates have made claims about Aiwanger’s personality and sense of humor at the time, suggesting that he engaged in racist behaviors.
Algemeiner reported that former Aiwanger classmate of two years, Mario Bauer during an interview with broadcaster ARD, stated that the German deputy premier of the German state of Bavaria used to make Nazi salutes upon entering the classroom and imitate Hitler's speeches.
Another interview with a separate former classmate recalled Aiwanger making antisemitic jokes after a school visit to the memorial of a concentration camp.
“He made a joke about Jews that I remember as very repulsive,” the former classmate said. “I can also remember a joke about children in Africa going hungry. It seemed to me that Hubert found this kind of humor rather delicious.”
What was in the “antisemitic pamphlet?”
Algemiener reported that the leaflet at the center of the controversy parodied national history competitions by referring to the Holocaust in flippant and grossly offensive ways.
The media outlet noted that the “prize” for providing the best response to “Who is the greatest traitor to the fatherland?” was “a complimentary flight through the chimney at Auschwitz.”
Other prizes to separate questions included things such as a “lifelong stay in a mass grave,” “a free shot in the back of the neck,” and a “night’s stay in the Gestapo cellar, then a trip to Dachau.”
While he admitted the pamphlet was discovered in his school bag, Aiwanger has flatly denied that he wrote it and, in fact, his brother, Helmut, has since taken responsibility.
Aiwanger additionally subsequently apologized to the victims of the Nazis and their descendants. However, he maintained his innocence in the matter of whether he wrote the pamphlet.
“I emphasize again: I did not write the pamphlet. I dissociate myself in every way from the disgusting content. I was never an antisemite, I was never a misanthrope…I can’t remember ever making a Hitler salute,” he said. “I didn’t rehearse any Hitler speeches in front of the mirror. From my memory, I can neither completely deny nor confirm other allegations such as misanthropic jokes. If this happened, I sincerely apologize.”