Wehrmacht memorial ceremony in Austria cancelled

28th August 2009, Comments 3 comments

The gathering, which was planned for September 20, will not go ahead because of the "turmoil" surrounding the commemoration, the association that organises the event said in a statement.

Vienna -- An annual memorial ceremony in Austria that honoured veterans of the Nazi Waffen SS has been cancelled, just days after the army said it was pulling out of the event, organisers said Thursday.

The gathering, which was planned for September 20, will not go ahead because of the "turmoil" surrounding the commemoration, the association that organises the event said in a statement.

Following the army's announcement on Tuesday that it would not take part, the association's president Rudolf Gallob and secretary general Peter Steinkellner announced their resignations, saying their efforts to distance the event from right-wing extremism had failed.

Held each September since 1958 on top of the Ulrichsberg mountain in the southern province of Carinthia, at a memorial to the Wehrmacht, the German army of the Nazi period, the gathering has sparked controversy.

In recent years it had become a meeting point for members of the European extreme right, attracting numerous neo-Nazis as well as veterans of the Waffen SS, the military units of the Nazi elite guard, from several countries.

The far-right nationalist leader Joerg Haider triggered international outrage at the ceremony in 1995 when he paid tribute to the Waffen SS, describing it as a group "of honest citizens who knew how to stay true to their convictions."

On Monday Defence Minister Norbert Darabos announced that the army, which mainly took care of logistics, would not take part in the ceremony because the event "does not sufficiently distance itself from National Socialist ideology."

Darabos, a member of Austria's Social Democratic party, was reacting to reports that one of the organisers, Wolf Dieter Ressenig, was selling Nazi memorabilia on the Internet.

AFP/Expatica

3 Comments To This Article

  • JorgHaider posted:

    on 2nd September 2009, 08:31:25 - Reply

    Too many Red Army soldiers were thugs and murderers. History has become so distorted in the name of political correctness. You can't even investigate the holocaust without going to jail.
  • L. Powell posted:

    on 31st August 2009, 14:11:27 - Reply

    Took courage for the Army; good for them. I went to this ceremony a few year s back and was very uncomfortable. Honoring the army vets and remembering their fallen comrads was understandable but the attendance of the old men in their solid black suits reminding everybody of their SS background was disturbing; a reminder of who they were and what they did. Too many were thugs and murderers.
  • Koldovika posted:

    on 28th August 2009, 07:20:22 - Reply

    If the Army is pulling out, then that means that they don't recognize the effort of "honest citizens who knew how to stay true to their convictions. Instead the government officials are obeying foreign interests.
    Remember, "with money dances the dog".