Rosenkranz ‘condemns Nazi crimes’

Barbara Rosenkranz, head of the Freedom Party’s (FPÖ) Lower Austrian branch, said today (Mon) she wanted to disassociate herself from Nazi ideology in a reaction to criticism of her running for president.Rosenkranz came under fire for failing to make clear statements regarding World War II.Asked whether she doubted the existence of gas chambers at Nazi concentration and forced labour camps, she said: “My view of history is the one of a person who visited Austrian schools between 1964 and 1976.”The mother-of-ten also caused outrage when she said doubting the existence of gas chambers was “freedom of expression”.Political rivals and NGOs attacked Rosenkranz and her party after FPÖ leader Heinz-Christian Strache claimed she would be “an option for conservative Austrians” at the 25 April election.Incumbent president Heinz Fischer, a former Social Democratic (SPÖ) Science Minister, is expected to celebrate a landslide win in the vote. Fischer took office in 2004 after beating the ÖVP’s candidate Benita Ferrero-Waldner.Rosenkranz today issued a written statement she described as a “declaration under oath”.Rosenkranz – who represents the right-wing party’s ultra-conservative wing – said in the statement she was “deeply affected” by the debate her candidacy has caused over the past few weeks.”Democracy, freedom and human dignity have always been the foundations of my views and my political activities. This is why I condemn the crimes of the era of the National Socialistic regime. I distinctively disassociate myself from Nazi ideology,” she said.Rosenkranz claimed she “never questioned the basic values of our country” and added: “I always defended them.”She said: “My political engagement is an expression of my love for our homeland and for the Republic of Austria, to its neutrality and its freedom.”Her statements come just days after the bestselling Kronen Zeitung newspaper, which has supported her candidacy, called on Rosenkranz to publicly disassociate herself from the Nazi mindset.Asked where she stands politically, Rosenkranz recently said: “I don’t regard myself as being far-right. I see myself in the middle of the political spectrum.”Strache claimed political rivals would “ride a campaign” against his party’s candidate for the presidential election.Tyrolean FPÖ boss Gerald Hauser meanwhile disassociated himself from Rosenkranz.Hauser said on Saturday she would act as if every FPÖ member would have the same opinion about the “National Socialism prohibition law” under which everyone who spreads Nazi propaganda or belittles Nazi crimes can be jailed for up to 20 years. Rosenkranz in the past called for a suspension of the law passed in 1947.Hauser said the only ones who benefited from the debate about her candidacy were the FP֒s political opponents.Both Christoph Leitl, head of the Austrian Economic Chamber (WKO) and Vienna Archbishop Christoph Cardinal Schönborn said last week they could rule out voting for Rosenkranz.FPÖ General Secretary Herbert Kickl meanwhile announced the party would invest “1.5 to 1.6 million Euros” in the campaign.Kickl said Rosenkranz would go on a tour though all nine Austrian provinces.The ÖVP, the Greens and the Alliance for the Future of Austria (BZÖ) decided not to nominate own candidates. This might not only have to do with Fischer’s excellent popularity figures, but also with the fact that – in contrast to provincial and federal elections – parties and individuals are not compensated for their campaign costs in presidential elections.