Monday, October 13, 2008

Haider & Hitler: More in common than a hometown.

After the far-right Austrian parties experienced a taste of victory in the Austrian national elections, they just as quickly lost one of the most important men among them. Joerg Haider, governor of the Austrian province of Carinthia, was killed in a car accident this weekend. The name may not ring a bell for most people but it’s important to note the striking similarities from another rather infamous Austrian…Adolf Hitler.

Both men were born in the province of Upper Austria about 61 years apart. However, their similarities go way beyond their region of birth. Despite an age difference of 61 years and the downfall of Hitler’s politics, Haider had been known for Nazi policies and sympathies. The most alarming similarity was their distrust and dislike of those of other races and immigrants. Hitler obviously took it to a much further extreme, but Haider’s reign was shaping up to accepting and pursuing these policies. For example, Hitler set up concentration camps and work camps for those that were unacceptable to his standards. Haider stirred many with his quote that these were “punishment camps.” He further fueled the fire when his campaign, during the 1999 eletion, used the word over-foreignization, the same word used by Joseph Goebbels in 1933.

Many other occurrences highlight Haider’s resemblance to Hitler and his support of his policies. Haider argued that the Nazi SS was a part of the German army that should be honored. Haider claimed he had a strong sense of loyalty to his parents who were early supporters of the Nazi Party. He had also been known to admire the employment procedures of the Nazis.

Sixty-three years after his death, Hitler had a follower, a follower that was gaining political power. However, this rising political powerhouse can no longer personally fight for such conservative policies. With the shocking death of Haider, will Nazi policies recede once again to the history books? Or will someone else step up and continue the far right views of Joerg Haider? His Alliance for the Future of Austria Party recently took 29% of the vote when combined with the Freedom Party. Now we must wait and see where the Alliance Party will go without their charismatic, yet controversial party leader.

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