Austrian police uncover Neo-Nazi group planning a "political coup"

Associated Press/October 29, 1999
By Roland Prinz

Vienna, Austria -- A neo-Nazi group planning a "political coup" in Austria was uncovered in the province where Adolf Hitler was born, police said today.

Most of the eight unidentified ringleaders have been arrested and a total of 69 people have been questioned in connection with the group, police said, according to the Austrian Press Agency.

The ring operated in the province of Upper Austria, including the provincial capital of Linz, where Hitler spent much of his youth, the news agency said.

The discovery follows an international stir over the recent electoral success of the far right-wing Freedom Party. The party's leader, Joerg Haider, has denied any links to neo-Nazi groups but has described Waffen SS members as "men of character."

In searches of about 40 houses, investigators found Nazi propaganda material, including videos, CDs, posters, flags T-shirts, as well as weapons, ammunition, daggers, wine bottles with Hitler-portrait labels, parts of uniforms and gas masks, the report said.

The suspects maintained contacts with convicted neo-Nazis in Austria and like-minded people in Germany, the Czech Republic, Britain and the United States, Herwig Haidinger, a senior police officer, told reporters in Linz. He said the group was planning to set up training camps in the Czech Republic to prepare for a "political coup."

The neo-Nazis sought to change the Austrian democratic system, the report said, and seek another "anschluss" of Austria - a repetition of the fateful annexation of Hitler's homeland by Nazi Germany in March 1938. Haidinger said the neo-Nazis, who proclaimed the "purity of the German race," planned to infiltrate various unspecified groups in Austrian society and purchase more weapons.

They also played anti-foreigner and Nazi songs and, staged several attacks on leftists and law enforcement officers.

Haidinger said members of the group had computer lists of members of leftists in Upper Austria.

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