Nazi symbol on tombstone in Austria to be removed after complaint from cemetery visitor

It is illegal to display Nazi regalia and symbols in Austria

Kashmira Gander
Sunday 19 July 2015 17:02 BST
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A Nazi rally in 1933 - it is illegal to glorify the Nazi past in Austria
A Nazi rally in 1933 - it is illegal to glorify the Nazi past in Austria (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

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A cemetery plot owner in Austria is facing pressure to remove "disgusting" Nazi symbols from two tombstones after a visitor complained.

The bodies of SS second lieutenant Gisbert Katzwendel and Nazi party clerical worker Friedrich Katzwendel lie in the graveyard in Linz, Upper Austria, beneath stones emblazoned with SS lightning bolts.

It is illegal to publicly display Nazi regalia and symbols, and those who break the law can face criminal charges and a prison sentence. However, depictions erected before the law came into place in 1947 have previously been allowed.

Uwe Sailer, who passed the controversial graves when he visited his father-in-law’s plot, told the Kurier newspaper that he found the sight “disgusting”, according to a translation by the Local.At website.

Following a complaint by Sailer, the Upper Austrian organisation against right-wing extremism is calling on the cemetery owner to remove the SS bolts.

Karin Weilguny, who is in charge of the local authority’s cemeteries and burials department, told the Kurier that the city’s lawyers had asked the plot owner to remove the banned symbols by 27 July. If the owner fails to do so the SS bolts would be removed at their expense.

The incident is not the first time that the party’s symbols have caused controversy in a country which has paid out millions of dollars in reparations to victims of the Nazi party and their families.

Last year, a swastika on a tombstone in Graz was covered up after police threatened the plot owner with a €4,000 (£2,800) fine, the broadcaster ORF reported according to the Associated Press.

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