The Vienna municipality has moved to protect the statue of a former mayor who made virulently antisemitic statements and may have inspired Hitler.
The statue of Karl Lueger, located in the heart of the Austrian capital on Ringstrasse Boulevard, was recently fenced in a bid to prevent protesters from spraying graffiti calling for its removal. They also stated that the municipality plans to clean the statue.
Mr Lueger served as mayor of Vienna for thirteen years until his death in 1910 at the age of 65. He was known for antisemitic rhetoric that is claimed to have inspired the young Hitler, who lived in the Austrian capital and spoke in Mein Kampf of his “undisguised admiration” for The Viennese mayor.
For example, in one speech, delivered to members of the Christian-Social Workers’ Association in Vienna in July 1899, Mr Leuger invoked the kind of antisemitic rhetoric that would later be employed by the Nazis, saying: “The influence on the masses is in the hands of the Jews…the largest part of the press is in their hands; the vast majority of capital and especially big business is in the hands of the Jews,” adding “above all, this is about the liberation of the Christian people from the domination of Judaism.”
Artist Simon Nagy, who helped start a vigil in protest at the continued city-centre presence of the statue and at the municipality’s plan to clean it, declared that it belonged “on the manure heap of history” or “in a museum.”