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November 01, 1991 - Image 72

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1991-11-01

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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72

I

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 1, 1991

Austrian Vandalism
Prompts Protest March

Vienna (JTA) — At least
5,000 people marched
through the rain last week
in a silent protest against
anti- Semitism in Vienna.
The demonstration, occa-
sioned by recent vandalism
at a historic Jewish
cemetery, may also have
been a response to a new poll
showing pervasive anti-
Semitism at most levels of
Austrian society.
The march, organized by
the Austrian Students
Association, had the support
of almost all of the national
political parties. Many
members of Parliament par-
ticipated.
They marched through a
heavy downpour from the
Judenplatz to the Memorial
Against Fascism and
Racism, where Professor An-
ton Pelinka, a political
scientist, addressed the
crowd.
In the past two years, 72
Jewish graves have been
destroyed in the Vienna
area. The most recent
desecrations occurred during
the night of Oct. 10.
Several gravestones were
toppled and remains scat-
tered at Tor I (Gate 1) of the
Zentralfriedhof, or Central
Cemetery, where no Jewish
burials have taken place
since 1938, the year of Adolf
Hitler's annexation of
Austria.
Since the vandals struck,
security has been tightened
around Jewish institutions
and cemeteries. Mr. Pelinka
referred to that when he
observed, "It is sad enough
that members of the Jewish
community have to sit in
their synagogues while arm-
ed police forces are watching
over theirsecurity.
"Now, in addition, the
Unguarded graves are being
desecrated," he said.
The march against anti-
Semitism was supported by
President Kurt Waldheim,
who has served his six years
in office under the shadow of
a Nazi past.
It had the backing of the
Social Democratic Party, the
Conservative Party, the
Greens and various youth
organizations.
Only the center-right
Freedom Party remained
aloof. • Its chairman, Jorg
Haider, labeled the cemetery
desecrations mere
"vandalism."
Similarly inclined was
Mayor Helmut Zilk of
Vienna, who insisted that
the upturned gravestones

were just a "boy's prank"
and not a sample of
"Viennese anti-Semitism."
Mr. Zilk is known to have
been distressed by an
American Jewish Com-
mittee-Gallup Institute poll
taken in Austria last
summer and released last
week, which disclosed strong
currents of anti- Semitism in
a substantial portion of the
population.
In reaction, he canceled a
conference based on the poll
findings that was to have
opened here Sunday under
the joint auspices of the
Vienna municipality and the
AJCommittee.
Mr. Zilk gave as his reason
the decision to advance the
date of the City Council elec-
tions to Nov. 10.
His attitude was surpris-
ing, considering that Mr.
Zilk recently played host to

The march against
anti-Semitism was
supported by
President Kurt
Waldheim, who has
served his six
years in office
under the shadow
of a Nazi past.

Mayor Teddy Kollek of
Jerusalem and was made an
honorary member of the
Senate of Tel Aviv Univer-
sity.
Johannes Voggenhuber,
head of the Green party,
charged that "this kind of
minimizing is the most
common form of anti-
Semitism."
The vandalism occurred on
the day Mr. Kollek's
Austrian-born wife visited
the grave of her grandfather,
Adolf Schwartz. Some
sources suggested that Mr.
Zilk was resentful because
the desecrations would not
have been widely publicized
had they not coincided with
Mr. Kollek's visit.
Meanwhile, a special
police task force is watching
the area until Election Day.
Tor I of the Zentralfriedhof
is the oldest part of the
cemetery. It is famous for
the Jewish writers, musi-
cians, intellectuals and their
families buried there. It con-
tains the remains of the
Vienna branch of the
Rothschild family and of
Jacob and Amalia Freud,
parents of Sigmund Freud.

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