Europe

Austria recalls diplomat from Israel over Nazi shirt

Austrian Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl addresses the media on 22 February Image copyright AFP
Image caption Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl said the employee was summoned to "clarify all circumstances"

Austria's foreign ministry has recalled an employee of its embassy in Israel after he posted a picture of himself on social media wearing a T-shirt bearing the name of a Nazi tank division.

A screenshot of Jürgen-Michael Kleppich's post on Facebook reportedly showed his green shirt with the words "Stand your ground" and "Frundsberg".

Mr Kleppich is a member of the far-right Freedom Party, junior coalition partner in Austria's government.

He has not yet commented.

The attaché, who had been sent temporarily to the embassy in Tel Aviv, was summoned to "clarify all circumstances" of the case, Austria's Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl told broadcaster ORF.

Frundsberg was a German Waffen-SS armoured division during World War Two.

The picture was revealed by Austria's Falter weekly, which added that Mr Kleppich had previously posted a photo of his grandfather in a Nazi uniform, complete with swastika.

Launched in 1956, the Freedom Party has worked to distance itself from its founders' Nazi past.

Despite expelling several officials in recent years over Nazi-related allegations, it has suffered further embarrassments.

Earlier this year a high-ranking local party official was forced to resign after it emerged that his student fraternity had published a songbook with lyrics praising the Holocaust, when some six million Jews were murdered.

Interior Minister Herbert Kickl, a Freedom Party member, is also under pressure over police raids targeting the domestic intelligence agency, which investigates extremist groups, including far-right activities.

The party controls the foreign, interior and defence ministries as part of the deal with the centre-right People's Party.

Israel has said it will not have direct contact with ministers from the Freedom Party.

Related Topics

More on this story