The FPÖ and the Jews

Heinz-Christian Strache with other representatives of the FPÖ in Israel, December 2010

The following article is from the conservative Austrian news and opinion website Schlaglichter. These are the site’s self-described policy positions (thanks to Egri Nök for the translation):

  • For freedom of the individual and a free market economy as the foundation of wealth and democracy
  • For a Europe that solves problems together but respects national decisions, and makes democratic decisions
  • For immigration and integration policies that serve the interests of the majority, and sensible refugee policies
  • Against Islamism and anti-Semitism

Schlaglichter is run by the Austrian Jewish writer Peter Sichrovsky, who used to be respectable until he became conservative and joined the FPÖ (Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs, Austrian Freedom Party). He served in the European Parliament for eight years, after which he left the party.

His article addresses his former party and its relations with Austrian Jews. JLH, who translated the piece for Gates of Vienna, describes it “as an insider’s look at what is awry in relations between the FPÖ and Jews and Israel, by way of the self-reflective memorandum of a Child of Survivors.”

The translated article:

The FPÖ and the Jews

by Peter Sichrovsky
January 4, 2018

Why Jews do not like Strache and he will never understand them

The vehement letter of representatives of the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, in which the FPÖ is described as the successor to the National Socialists and which contains the order of the Israeli Prime Minister to prevent any minister-level contact with them, came as a shock to the FPÖ. It had seemed so clear that there were things in common here. In Israel too, a real coalition was in control — as Strache said in a letter to Netanyahu — and he would immediately recognize Jerusalem as the capital. Like Jewish communities in Europe, we (the FPÖ) recognize the danger of anti-Semitism through refugees from Arab countries and have even visited the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem. What more (dammit all!) are we supposed to do?

Apparently the FPÖ’s advisers on Israel and Judaism are as expertly qualified as I am to offer advice on animal husbandry in the Alps. There is no other explanation for the many mistakes and false assessments of reality. Perhaps this essay will help many to better understand the situation — to comprehend that all the trips to Israel, all the nice letters and blandishments, will change nothing, so long as the FPÖ cannot or will not normalize its relationship with the Austrian Jewish community.

The second and third generation

I was born shortly after the end of the war. I grew up in Vienna as a non-religious Jew, with parents who believed the solution to anti-Semitism was Communism — no Jewish festivals and visits to synagogues. As a 17-year-old, I went on a trip to Auschwitz. It was this trip that shook me out of my indifference and denial, interrupted my long unconsciousness of my origin. It was as if someone had pushed a hot needle into my skin, which would not cool off. In this camp, where my grandmother and other relatives were killed, the mass murder, which I recognized from endless repetitions in books, films and the survivor stories of my parents’ friends, distilled into an unbearable feeling.

I separated from the group touring the museum and stood for minutes in front of individual display cases. It was not a huge mound of glasses, hair, suitcases and toothbrushes of the murdered lying there behind the glass walls — it was my grandmother’s hair and the suitcase and spectacles of my father’s younger sister. I caught myself trying to read the inscriptions on the luggage, and the addresses on the labels still hanging on the handles. As if I had been taken back to the scene of a crime, to identify the remains of my relatives.

Later, I caught up to the group, waiting at the bus. On the return trip, I was sitting next to a girl of my age. We said nothing for a time, until she began the conversation that influenced me in the coming decades. “I don’t know, I imagine that I saw my uncle’s name on one of the suitcases,” she said quietly. I looked at her in astonishment: “You were looking for names too?”

She nodded. We were quiet for a few minutes, then I asked: “Does that ever stop? Will there be moment when we forget everything?”

“No, we don’t have a chance. Maybe our children,” she answered, and suddenly I understood why — in spite of my parents’ flight from Judaism — I often felt so alien in a non-Jewish environment, but so understood here in the bus with other children of survivors. Life with survivors made the past into the present. Who else could understand that?

Most of my parents’ friends were leftists, or at least communist sympathizers and socialists, convinced atheists. There was a Christmas tree at Christmas, just like with all Austrians. And yet they all came from Jewish families with similar histories, acted like Jews, talked like Jews and thought like them. It was just that they did not believe in a God. At Easter, they let their children hunt for chocolate eggs instead of celebrating Pesach.

A mandate that binds

How are representatives of the FPÖ (or other parties) supposed to understand this “second and third generation,” who today are the influential representatives of Judaism in Europe? They do not know our sensitivities. They are bewildered by what seem to others our inexplicably aggressive reactions to sometimes silly, almost coy downplaying of the Nazi era. A Christmas card from the 1940s with NS imagery may seem — to the FPÖ functionary who sent it — nothing more than a poor joke. He didn’t mean it like that. Making a neo-Nazi mindset out of it was an overblown uproar with no basis.

But for “US,” it is reason for rage, disappointment, annoyance, bitterness.

At least, in Europe, Israel and North America, the “second and third generation” grew up in the security of democracy and live peaceful everyday lives as “children of the victims,” as has rarely occurred in the history of Judaism. It may be that the post-war generation of Jews In Austria is the first ever that will end its life without persecution, discrimination and expulsion.

And yet, despite this protected and secured life, there is a mandate that indisputably binds the post-war generation. And indeed, all Jews, whether they now live in Tel Aviv, Vienna or Hong Kong. Understanding that is often difficult, or impossible, for non-Jews, and leads to surprise and misunderstandings, even to reproaches — why so sensitive, apparently almost arbitrary — judging, boycotting or rejecting someone because of mere trifles.

For the second and third generation, the historical facts of the Holocaust are always a part of their own family history. History instruction was the experiences of their own parents; history became stories and fate, told or not told, described or suppressed, but always present.

A simple example of differing sensitivities would be the sometimes well-intentioned articles and essays in the media on the subject of the Holocaust and hostility to Jews. How often one of these articles — like one in ZEIT on October 5, 1984 — was accompanied by a photo of a pile of corpses from a liberated concentration camp, with a caption, “Pile of corpses in a concentration camp.” Whoever chose this photo certainly did not imagine that his own relatives were shown in the picture.


So when the chair of he Jewish community of Austria, Oskar Deutsch, refuses any contact with representatives of the FPÖ, he is acting according to his mandate as representative of the descendants of the dead and the survivors. He cannot do otherwise. The relativizing, downplaying and often neo-Nazi activities of individual FPÖ functionaries forbid any dialogue, since the official representative of Austrian Jews represents not only the members of his generation, but also his own family.

I had tried another way, and have to live with the criticism of my decision, because it is completely justified. Jörg Haider[1] assured me at the beginning of the 1990s that he intended to make an end to the conflict with the Jewish community. At the time, I saw a chance to cooperate with the ÖVP, to build up, step by step, a second conservative party without right-radical ideology. Knittelfeld[2] ended this idea and with it my political experiment.

FPÖ head Strache — who sometimes downplays or denies the rightist extreme activities of his members, never apologizes for them and managed to insult the entire Jewish community with a statement (in connection with demonstrations against a ridiculous dance presentation) that the members of the FPÖ are the New Jews — claims it is his heartfelt desire to normalize relations with Israel.

That is certainly possible; other politically rightist parties were able step-by-step to end Israel’s boycott. But there are rules for the process, and the FPÖ apparently has not understood them. Without a normalization of relations with the Jewish community in Austria, no representative of the Israeli government will take up contact with the FPÖ. They can’t, because here we are again at the (unofficial) mandate of the murdered and the survivors to the second and third generation. My advice for improving relations with the Jewish community and Israel is simple and unproblematically achievable:

Just ask the representatives the community. The know under what conditions they would be prepared to normalize relations. And then just do what they advise. In the end, only this process will make a dialogue with Israel possible.


1.   Charismatic and controversial head of the FPÖ (Freedom Party) at the time, a moving force in the formation of a “blue-black” government, which caused (short-lived) international outrage and ultimately decimated both the FPÖ and its partner, the ÖVP (People’s Party).
2.   The so-called “Knittelfeld putsch” in 2002 split the FPÖ, leading to the dissolution of the coalition with the ÖVP, and to Haider’s forming a new party.

29 thoughts on “The FPÖ and the Jews

  1. Well, Mr. Sichrovsky is right about FPÖ and other political parties on the right not being sufficiently strict about banning antisemites. Downplaying of Nazi crimes, historical revisionism and revanchism, making up justifications for persecution of Jews . . . what Jewish person wants to be involved in such a movement?

    On the other hand, European Jews must acknowledge that Marine LePen and Front National, for example, have made great strides to weed out antisemites, often at great cost to unity in the party’s membership. These are not tactical, cynical maneuvers. Ms. LePen ousted her own father — the party’s founder — for not renouncing antisemitism.

    By that token, the majority of members and voters of “right” parties, from France to Germany to Holland, have cause to be upset that many Jews dismiss them out of hand as unreconstructed “Nazis” — which they aren’t.

  2. I have a friend who is incredibly tactless.There is no filter between his brain and his tongue.But we continue to see him ,because at bottom he is tremendously kind ,never means to cause offence.

    Mutual friends describe him as a large clumsy labrador dog bounding joyfully down the road, dragging his kennel behind him ,oblivious to the destruction he leaves in his wake ..

    But if he could in any way ,help anybody he would gladly, willingly do so with a cheery heart and right goodwill.

    I see something similar playing out between the well meaning FPO and the frankly repulsed and appalled Jewish community.

    The FPO ,like my tactless friend, is full of goodwill towards the Jewish community ,an earnest desire to treat them well.But his lack of tact causes that same Jewish community for whom he harbors a warm and deep regard ,to run screaming in the opposite direction.

    Now I’ve no doubt that the German left are more charming.With silken promises and friendly smiles they usher in their Muslim proteges who wish for no greater boon than the genocide of the Jews and the Christians.

    And the German left remind me of the charming softly spoken assassin.The assassin who smiles his sweetest smile as he clasps your right hand in his right hand and simultaneously with his left hand slides the dagger between your ribs .

    I prefer the blunt honesty of the forthright but tactless man to the charm of the empty honeyed phrases of the assassin.

    I can only conclude that my instinct and will to survive is rather stronger and more finely honed than that of your average second or third generation Jewish person.

  3. Dear Peter:

    I think the Jewish communities reflexive hostility to right leaning politics creates a situation where such right leaning groups naturally align against Jewish communities because of the inherent prejudices of the left, and the roughly 75% of the Jewish community which totally embraces the most extreme positions of the political left (Ben Shapiro estimate of Jewish voting patterns). Why they do so has remained a great mystery to me, because their continued support of the left means that they will be destroyed by it, much the same as black support of liberal politics has destroyed the black community. While I have absolutely no hostility what so ever toward someone like Ben Shapiro, I have great hostility toward the George Soros, the Barbara Spectres, and people like the Southern Poverty Law Center founders. If you insist on group identity, then the group becomes accountable for the sins of the majority of the individuals in that group. You want me to view you collectively as a force for good when 75% of Jews vote for liberal agendas? How can I do so when the very politics that the vast majority of Jews embrace are antithetical to what I see as the sole means for the continued existence of western civilization?

    I agree with the above bulleted points, but you need to ask yourself if this accurately reflects the Jewish community as a whole. While I don’t agree with the anti-Semitism of the far right, I totally understand it, given the very far left image of the Jewish community. Let’s just say I am willing to condemn or support you as individuals first, and let’s lose the totally civilization ending, destructive idea of group identity that the left seems so enamored with. It is a destructive force which will rip the country apart at the seams. Collective identity means collective guilt and collective punishment. You don’t want that!

    Wouldn’t it be more constructive if you actively supported what you seemingly fear? They would then lose their instinctive distrust of the Jewish community, and you would lose your instinctive fear of them. Try engaging with them first before issuing your blanket condemnation.

    • I don’t understand the fascination for Barbara Lerner Spectre.

      Isn’t she just some leftist university teacher in Sweden? I could name dozens of far-left university teachers of Christian and atheist creed.
      I looked at her list of publications, it isn’t long. So obviously, she isn’t influential.
      The most destructive public figures in Germany are Christians, and they claim it is their Christian belief which compells them to – well, in our eyes, to destroy Europe; but in their own eyes, they are leading Europe towards a utopian future:
      Angela Merkel, protestant
      Katrin Göring-Eckardt, a protestant. Leader of the Green Party.
      Margot Käßmann, protestant bishop
      Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, Archbishop of Cologne
      Cardinal Reinhard Marx, Archbishop of Munich, a Marxist not just by namesake –
      I could go on.

      • Egri thanks for the info about this Austrian Jewish conservative website. I will look into it. The founder of the site left the fpö? Well, where did he then go with his conservativism-Övp?

        • You are welcome! If I understood this correctly, Sichrovsky went on to be a journalist, and is not directly involved in politics anymore.

      • Barbara Lerner Spectre is a prototype, a famous face of a liberal, radical leftist with a Jewish background. That’s the fascination with that woman.

      • I mentioned Barbara Spectre as an example of the destructive, delusional thinking of leftist Jews, not because of any relative influence she has.

        You are correct to point out that many people who identify as Christians also qualify as even more destructive influences (please include the current pope in your list), but that is off topic when discussing the problems with the Jewish left’s hatred of right wing political parties, and the associated issues of Jewish group identity with such left wing parties.

    • I agree with your conclusion, the Jews are not a homogeneous group, so they must stop pretending they are. The wolfes in sheep’s clothing are among them, just like among any other community. The only way for surviving is to realise this fact and look for allies in other groups!

  4. I jut don’t get it, either.
    This is WW IV–a war to the death–and we had better take our allies where we can find them. The enemy could not be more deadly nor more obvious. This seems like nitpicking to me, and I am just not able to find the nits.
    We should all “lock and load”.

    • “lock and load” is available only to Americans via the Second Amendment. Various states are anti-Second Amendment, and by coincidence, those are states with high levels of illegal gun ownership.

      In the UK, it would be suicide now to permit, say, concealed weapons. But in places of low immigration and scant forced multicultural enrichment, it seems perfectly normal.

  5. I had mixed feelings about this essay. First the writer’s family and self professed attraction to Communism… The Communists are killed more than ten times more people than Nazis, close to 110 millions! (I know it’s not a competition, but still). The Hungarian Communist Gestapo the ÁVH – State Defense Office had an overwhelming percentage of officers with Jewish (atheist, Communist) backgrounds committing just as horrific crimes as their national SOCIALIST counterparts. Anyone who visit Budapest, please do not skip the House of Terror, a museum showing the deeds of both the national and international SOCIALISTS. It’s in the original building complete with torture and execution chambers in the basement.
    What I want to say, there are plenty of blame to go around and just like many time in history nobody really innocent or 100 percent completely villainous.
    There are also Jews, who use guilt tripping as source of income. In Hungary those were the ones, who called the campaign against Soros, anti-Semitic and later they even called the Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu “anti-Semitic”… I wonder if those people are “disliked” because they have a Jewish background, or because they are Bolsheviks, parasites and generally a miserable excuse for a human beings, corrupt and happy to tow any cause they got payed for, even letting Muslims into their own country, endangering even their own “kind”…
    I think it’s high time for the Jews to recognize and accept the fact, that not all of their people are upstanding human beings (like any nations in this planet). These Communists activists are willing to sell their Jewish “brothers” out and their only allies could be the nationalists, who try to defend them too. In Hungary it seems succeeded such alliance, the religious Jewish community supports the Orbán government.

    • Re. “I think it’s high time for the Jews to recognize and accept the fact, that not all of their people are upstanding human beings (like any nations in this planet)”

      One of the most outspoken anti “professional-Jew”, but also anti political correctness, anti marxist, anti creeping Islamisation personalities of Germany is Henryk M. Broder, a Jew.

      • Yes, but as things currently stand, the average European jew, and Israeli too by the sounds of it, is going to be of no use in combating the spread of islam in Europe, quite the opposite.
        Instead they’ll lend credence to all the leftists in equating anti-islamic sentiment with nazism.

        I can’t even fathom that comparison given that persecution of Jews in Europe were against a people who’d lived there for centuries, were heavily involved in science and music. Had served their various countries in war.
        Compare that to a bunch of welfare types coming from a completely different part of the world and culture and there is no comparison.

        • They are not all like this. I know a German jew born in Germany, still lives there and is an AFD activist and member of other patriotic clubs.

  6. “ask the representatives (of) the community… then just do what they advise”

    This guy basically wants a blank cheque. Kurz & Strache have to grovel and do penance forever to atone for past crimes.

  7. Sichrovsky… I still have one of his books in German: _Wir wissen nicht was morgen wird_. It’s almost the only book-length reading I ever took in specific to Jewish questions. Interesting to see where he’s been.

  8. I look at it this way. The FPO, even if they include some people with questionable views towards Jews, are NOT a threat to Jews in Austria.

    Islamists, and their enablers, ARE a threat.

    Thus from a point of view of self-preservation, Jews should support the FPO.

    If one finds that this needs holding one’s nose, one should ask oneself why this is any more pleasant to do in order to support left-wing fascists, who actually WILL cause harm to Jews in Austria.

    That would be my thinking on it, anyway.

  9. I drive a car that was built in Wolfesburg, Germany. Hitler’s nickname was ‘Wolfie’ and the city was named after whom?

    Why is this relevant? Because it is part of the HOAX. Because the blame for the Shoah shifted from the Socialism to the Nationalism and the ‘right’ tends to be Nationalist.

    Here in Israel nationalism is considered acceptable, but the country as a whole is emerging from under a socialist rock and beginning to prosper in spite of accusations of ‘right wing-ism’ and ‘fascism’.

    However I do not see any enlightenment in my family back in Europe, they still cling to the idea that the National Socialists were ‘conservatives’, a narrative to which they cling in spite of the vast evidence to the contrary. Mainly, I think, because it is a mandatory meme that Jews MUST adopt as they desperately but futilely seek entre to the communities of the left.

    Zionism is the acceptance that Jews will never be allowed to join the mainstream (of anything), and anti-Zionist Jews must therefore virtue signal their adherence to the ‘leftist’ narrative and its fantasy history. Nothing much has changed over the last 120 years since Hertzle made his initial Zionist waves.

    Judaism actually pre-exists the Holocaust, but one might not think it. Fagin and Shylock set the scene centuries before it, and not much has changed since.

    But the post-holocaust Jewish psyche is seriously damaged, and Jews are haunted by the increasing feeling that ‘never again’ is becoming ‘its all happening again’.

    A muslim 3 miles away lights the blue touch paper and stands back, a fizz and a whoosh announces the departure of another explosive laden missile, next stop Sderot (or one of the Kibbutzim down the line).

    The world does not considered this to be a ‘War Crime’ because Jooz are just not real people and can therefore be denied acceptance into the international community (or of membership of country clubs in Palm Beach). Anti-semitism is politically a less potent a weapon than ‘racism’.

    “Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions; fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed?”

    William Shakespear – Merchant of Venice circa 1598 – and nothing has changed.

    • MC
      I was hoping you would appear here. Iwasn’t sure what to expect but I knew it would be different and it is.
      Sadly, sometimes only the hard truth helps both sides. Thank you for that.

      • Dinesh D’souza points out that the Nazis were on the left in speech after brilliant speech .

        He also wrote a book about it “The Big Lie”

  10. For a Europe that solves problems together but respects national decisions” .. ok, except what is ‘a Europe’ … “and makes democratic decisions” no, you could walk an elephant through that for Europe.

    “For immigration and integration policies that serve the interests of the majority” … majorities change and who judges their interests…. “and sensible refugee policies”… says nothing, whatever you want to imagine.

    “Against Islamism”…no need for a cause, demanding the religion fit common law is good enough “and anti-Semitism” … so Arab ( Semitic) people are welcome if not Muslim is what he is trying to say ?

    The Jewish sense seems focused on a certain ethical / religious mystery, one that is not viewed by Christianity or western culture in the same light.The interplay of Nazi and Jew is in many ways its own story, as is the concept of Judaism representing a nation, and western nation representing a belief system , understanding the overlap is more than confusing due to the form of presentation tending to be laid out in a not clearly defined manner.

    Apart that, well many paid heavily, of all peoples and nations. For whatever reason the Jewish reality in that has not found as much settlement as of other nations, in spite of the recognition it has received. I think the author should ask himself why that is, as he is not likely to find an answer he can understand or accept from others.

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