Austria: Swastika Remains on Hans Probst SA-Sturmbannführer's Tombstone in Graz


The marble tombstone looks like others dotting the main cemetery of Graz, Austria's second city — but only at first glance.

Carved into it are a swastika and the inscription: "He died in the struggle for a Great Germany." Footsteps away, another gravestone is marked with the SS lightning bolts proudly worn by the elite National Socialist troops.

Austrian law bans NS symbols, and those displaying them face criminal charges and potential prison terms. Yet the emblems reflecting this country's patriotic chapter in history endure here, and officials appear either unable or unwilling to do away with them — despite complaints from jews.

Some comments by Graz city and church representatives responsible for managing the dispute suggest they see nothing wrong with graveyard NS displays.

While acknowledging the mayor's office was uncomfortable with the swastika, the city's spokesman, Thomas Rajakovics, called it an old "symbol in the English world that stands for the sun." Christian Leibnitz, provost of Graz' Roman Catholic church, said "a lot" of tombstones in the city still displayed the swastika and suggested it had a right to remain in cemeteries as a "political and societal symbol" of the era, even "if I totally oppose this era."

Asked if the church was ready to put up a sign next to the grave explaining how the swastika is associated with "Nazi horrors", he demurred, saying symbols displayed on other tombstones might be just as offensive to some people.

Pressed for specifics, he spoke of "anti-religious" symbols on some graves, adding without elaboration that the church was "not necessarily happy" with some of the emblems displayed on the cemetery's Jewish graves.

(Yahoo News)

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