Nazi labour camp attack teens sentenced

Three teenagers have been given suspended jail sentences for firing plastic bullets at a group of Nazi slave labour camp survivors.The male friends, aged between 14 and 16 when the incident occurred at the former stone quarry in Ebensee in Upper Austria, in May 2009.The defendants admitted having approached the group of elderly Frenchmen and Italians wearing masks and camouflage. They shouted “Sieg Heil, you pigs!” and “Blood and honour!” while goose-stepping in front of the horrified men who visit the former labour camp every year in memory of the more than 8,700 forced labourers who died at the site between 1943 and 1945.The teenagers then gave the Nazi salute and fired plastic ammunition at the group – which included several Holocaust survivors, with their airsoft guns.Daniel Simon, one of the 120 members of the group, said at the Provincial Court in Wels yesterday (Weds): “It is not important to me that these young people get punished. I want them to learn from it.”Simon heads the French Mauthausen Committee which organises trips to Austria and other events to commemorate the victims of the Upper Austrian World War Two concentration camp of the same name.The 64-year-old Frenchman and another man were hit on the head by bullets in the incident which caused public outcry in Austria and across the world.The three accused teens were given suspended prison terms of five to six months, while another defendant was acquitted. The verdicts are not yet legally binding.One of them wrote a handwritten letter of the Austrian Mauthausen Committee (MKÖ) to apologise to the victims around one month after the attack.He wrote: “We did not want to hurt or threaten anyone by our disrespectful behaviour. It was supposed to be a prank.”The teenager’s lawyer Kurt Waldhör claimed his client would like to “erase” the day on which the assaults occurred from his life. Simon said about the letter: “I hope he meant what he wrote.”One of the main suspects was found to be a member of the Kinderfreunde, a children’s leisure time activities organisation run by the Social Democrats (SPÖ), and the SP֒s Red Falcons youth organisation. It has, however, not been revealed whether it was the young Social Democrat who sent the letter of apology.The teens, who live locally, were tracked down only a few days after the incident. They claimed in court they were not neo-Nazis and in fact had no political attitude whatsoever.