Jörg Haider

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Jörg Haider, Иорг Хайдер, Jorgs Haiders
Lawyer, Politician, Public figure
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Jörg Haider ; 26 January 1950 – 11 October 2008) was an Austrian politician. He was Governor of Carinthia on two occasions, the long-time leader of the Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ) and later Chairman of the Alliance for the Future of Austria (Bündnis Zukunft Österreich, BZÖ), a breakaway party from the FPÖ.

Haider was a controversial figure within Austria and abroad for comments that were widely condemned as praising Nazi policies or as beingxenophobic or anti-Semitic. Several countries imposed mild diplomatic sanctions against his party's participation in government alongside Wolfgang Schüssel's ÖVP, starting from 2000. Haider died in a car accident shortly after leading the BZÖ in the Austrian Parliamentary elections.




Haider's parents had been early members of the Nazi Party (DNSAP, German National Socialist Workers' Party, the Austrian affiliate of the German NSDAP). They were from different backgrounds. Haider's father, Robert Haider, was a shoemaker. His mother, Dorothea Rupp, was the daughter of a well-to-do physician and head of the gynaecology ward at the general hospital of Linz.

Robert Haider joined the DNSAP in 1929 as a fifteen-year-old boy, four years before Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany. He remained a member even after the Nazi Party was banned in Austria and after Engelbert Dollfuss had dissolved the Austrian parliament and established a Ständestaat, a fascist dictatorship. In 1933, Haider senior moved to Bavaria but returned to Austria the following year after the failed Nazi attempt to overthrow the Austrian government. He was arrested and chose to move back to Germany where he joined the Austrian Legion, a division of the Sturmabteilung.

Haider senior completed a two-year military service in Germany and returned to Austria in 1938 after it was annexed by Nazi Germany (theAnschluss). From 1940, he fought as a junior officer on the Western and Eastern Fronts in Europe during the Second World War. Having been wounded several times, he was discharged from the Wehrmacht with the rank of lieutenant. In 1945, he married Dorothea Rupp, at that time a leader in the Bund Deutscher Mädel (BDM).

Following the end of the war, Haider's parents were investigated as part of the denazification process, conducted to determine what measures should be taken against them because of their NSDAP membership (proceedings against all former Nazis—NSDAP members and collaborators—were undertaken as a matter of law in both Austria and Germany after the war ended). They were labelled as "Minderbelastet" (meaning "compromised to a lesser degree", i.e. low-ranking in the NSDAP structure). Robert Haider found a job in a shoe factory. Dorothea Haider, who had been a teacher, was prohibited from teaching for a few years following the end of the war. Robert was forced to dig graves, which their son recalled as a "brutal injustice."  Haider's mother eventually outlived him, turning ninety on the day he died.




Haider was born in the Upper Austrian town of Bad Goisern in 1950, a time when his parents' finances were rather moderate, and his elder sister, later Ursula Haubner, five years old. He was a good student in primary school and attended high school in Bad Ischl despite his parents' financial situation. Haider was reportedly always top of his class in high school. During his time in Bad Ischl he had first contacts with nationalist organizations, such as the Burschenschaft Albia, a right-wing student group.

After he graduated with highest distinction in 1968, he moved to Vienna to study law. During his studies he was affiliated again with a Burschenschaft: Silvania. After graduating from theUniversity of Vienna with the title of Dr. iur. in 1973 he was drafted into the Austrian Army where he voluntarily spent more than the mandatory nine months (called 'the voluntary one year'). In 1974 he started to work at the University of Vienna law faculty in the department of constitutional law.



Marriage and children

Haider was married to Claudia Hoffmann from 1 May 1976 until his death.



Bärental estate

Location of the state of Carinthia in the south of Austria.

Throughout his career Haider had concentrated his politics on Carinthia. In addition, Haider's personal life was heavily connected with this part of Austria: Haider became wealthy in 1983 when he inherited the estate of Wilhelm Webhofer, who had owned a large parcel of land in Carinthia commonly known as 'Bärental' (bear valley). This estate has a history that came up in the 1990s in the Austrian media. The land had been owned by an Italian Jew until 1941. At that point in time the Nazis still hesitated to take possession of property owned by non-German Jews without any compensation. Inside Italy Jewish property was not yet open for confiscation and the Mussolini government was not inclined to allow this happen to Jewish nationals abroad either. Thus when the estate was sold in 1941, one Josef Webhofer (a former resident of South Tyrol, Italy, and an Optant) paid 300,000Reichsmark (about $1.5 million today) to obtain title to the land. After the war Mathilde Roifer, the widow of the former Jewish owner of Bärental, demanded compensation. Despite a panel finding that the property was fairly sold, Webhofer paid Roifer an additional 850,000 schillings. In 1955 Josef Webhofer's son Wilhelm Webhofer, no blood relative of Jörg Haider's but rather a "Wahlonkel" or uncle-by-choice, inherited the estate and later bequeathed it to Haider. Today the land is estimated to be worth about $15 million.



Collapse of the (first) coalition and decline of the Freedom Party

This resulted in new general elections in November, which resulted in a landslide victory (42.27% of the vote) of the conservative People's Party led by Federal Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel. Haider's Freedom Party, which in 1999 was slightly stronger than Schüssel's party, was reduced to 10.16% of the vote. In September 2002, after a special party convention ("Sonderparteitag") in Knittelfeld (Styria), the so-called Knittelfeld Putsch, Riess-Passer lost the support of many party members. This meeting is also sometimes considered as a rebellion against the members which are currently involved in the government, which was thought to be started or at least supported by Haider. Thus Riess-Passer resigned as Vice Chancellor and Party Chairwoman. With her, Karl-Heinz Grasser, the finance minister, and Peter Westenthaler, the head of the Freedom Party's Parliament Club, also resigned.

In response, Haider stated that he had demanded that the leader of the FPÖ must step down to allow him to be leader, and on being refused, stated that he would leave federal politics permanently.

In October 2003, in a cabinet reshuffle instigated by Haider, Haupt stepped down as Vice Chancellor and was replaced by Hubert Gorbach.

On 7 March 2004, the FPÖ won a plurality (42.5%) of the vote in the elections for the Carinthian parliament. On 31 March 2004, Haider was re-elected Governor of Carinthia by the FPÖ and SPÖ members of the state parliament.

However, outside Carinthia, Haider's charisma seemed to have largely lost its appeal among voters. The FPÖ incurred devastating losses in several regional elections, the European Elections of 2004 and in elections for the Austrian Chamber of Commerce. In each of those elections, it lost between one half to two thirds of their previous voters.



Political views

Since beginning his political career in the 1970s, Haider was critical of mainstream Austrian politics. He used simple slogans to raise his popularity by using issues he saw that the general public perceived as unjust or the self-interest of big party politics (specifically the Austrian Social Democrats and the Austrian People's Party).

In a 27 September 2008 talkshow on ORF television, Haider described the boards of directors of numerous world banks as "mafia". Haider also advocated the creation of heavier punishments for banking managers and proposed the creation of a special Legal Court against financial crimes, in one of his last interviews to the Austrian Kleine Zeitung daily.

Haider supported fighting against increasing prices, and paying a minimum salary of €1000 per month, as well as €1000 per month for mothers. He also supported reforming the Austrian social insurance system with one insurance company per profession. Until 2005 Haider was for the entry of Turkey into the European Union. Later, he urged that decisions like the treaty for the European Union, or the entrance of Turkey into the European Union should be decided by a referendum.




Throughout his career, Haider vigorously opposed immigration and sometimes made public statements seen as offensive to immigrant populations. In the early 1990s, Haider proclaimed that

"The social order of Islam is opposed to our Western values. Human rights and democracy are as incompatible with the Muslim religious doctrine as is the equality of women. In Islam, the individual and his free will count for nothing; faith and religious struggle – jihad, the holy war – for everything."



Language policy  

One of Haider's main political struggles was the one against bilingualism in southern Carinthia, where an autochthonous Slovene ethnic-linguistic community, known as the Carinthian Slovenes, lives. Already in the 1980s, Haider pursued a policy of segregation in schools, insisting on physically dividing the Slovene and German-speaking pupils in elementary schools in southern Carinthia. In December 2001, the Austrian Constitutional Court ruled that topographic road signs in all settlements in Carinthia which have had more than 10% of Slovene-speaking inhabitants over a longer period of time, should be written both in German and Slovene. Haider refused to carry out this decision, which has been reiterated by the Court several times thereafter, and publicly threatened to sue the president of the Constitutional Court. Instead of erecting hundreds of new bilingual signs, as ruled by the court, Haider ordered the removal of several existing ones, which triggered a wave of protest among the local Slovene minority, including acts of civil disobedience.

In May 2006, Haider personally moved the road sign of the town of Bleiburg (Slovene: Pliberk) in south-eastern Carinthia for several meters as the response to the decision of the Constitutional Court which ruled the sign was unconstitutional because it was written only in German. He compared himself to Jesus Christ who moved the stone over his tomb, provoking indignation by the local Roman Catholic clergy. After the Court condemned his action as illegal, Haider threatened to call a regional referendum on the issue, for which he was publicly admonished by the Federal President Heinz Fischer. The referendum was blocked by the decision of the Federal institutions which found it unconstitutional. In December 2006, Haider tried to bypass the ruling of the Constitutional Court by attaching small, barely visible, plaques with Slovene placenames to German road signs, which was again found unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court. Haider nevertheless disregarded the Court's decision and pursued his action.

In his last speech, delivered on the celebration of the 88th anniversary of the Carinthian Plebiscite only a few hours before his death, Haider reiterated his opposition to any kind of visual bilingualism in the region and warned the Slovene politicians "not to play with fire".



Support from Muammar al-Gaddafi and Saddam Hussein

Haider was also known to have visited Iraq to meet Saddam Hussein on the eve of the 2003 Iraq War, as well as having had a friendship with Muammar Gaddafi when Libya was an international pariah. According the Austrian news magazine Profil, Haider and his party colleague Ewald Stadler received $5 million for their services.

The investigation proved that the two gentlemen had received the amount of five million US Dollars from Saddam Hussein against their services to him. Edwald [sic] Stadler received three million seven hundred and fifty thousand US Dollars, and Dr. Jörg Haider received the rest, which is one million two hundred and fifty thousand US Dollars. —Profil, 7 August 2010

A confiscated diary mentions a 45 million euro transfer from Gaddafi, as well as more than 10 million euro that individuals brought home from Iraq. Some of Saddam's money was picked up by Haider's confidant from a Swiss account belonging to the dead sons of Saddam Hussein.



Allegations of Nazi sympathies and anti-semitism

Haider was frequently criticized for statements in praise of Nazi policies, or considered antisemitic. International reports on Haider often referred to his remark that the Nazi government had produced a "proper employment policy" as compared to the SPÖ government. He was forced to resign as governor of the Carinthia province in 1991 because of the incident. Haider years later apologized. On one occasion during a parliamentary debate, Haider described World War II concentration camps as "punishment camps." 

On several occasions Haider made remarks about Austrian World War II veterans that were represented as broad endorsement of the war and of the Nazi SS. Speaking to a gathering of veterans from several countries in 1990, he said that the veterans were "decent people of good character" and "remain true to their convictions." Haider stated that he did not specifically address Waffen-SS veterans with his remarks. On another occasion, he said, "the Waffen-SS was part of the Wehrmacht (German military) and because of that it deserves every honor and recognition." In 2000, at gathering of Wehrmacht veterans in Ulrichsberg, including Waffen-SS veterans, he said, "Those who come to Ulrichsberg are not the old Nazis. They are not neo-Nazis, they are not criminals."

Haider also compared the deportation of Jews by the Nazis to the expulsion of Sudeten Germans from Czechoslovakia after World War II. Haider's detractors also pointed to a punningreference to the leader of the Jewish community of Vienna, Ariel Muzicant; Haider indicated that he did not understand how someone named Ariel (also the name of a popular laundry detergent) could have gathered so much filth, implying the real estate agent's business methods were crooked. Haider's critics characterized the remark as antisemitic. Haider also maintained that Muzicant faked antisemitic hate letters to himself. He later withdrew this and other accusations, and apologized for his "derogatory remarks" .

Haider was closely watched by Mossad, the Israeli secret service; FPÖ secretary general Peter Sichrovsky - a Jewish-Austrian politician and formerly one of Haider's closest aides - had gathered inside information on Haider's controversial contacts with prominent "Arab dictators". Due to Haider's perceived contacts to Holocaust deniers, the Israeli Foreign Ministry on September 29, 2008 declared it was heavily concerned about the 2008 Austrian elections; a spokesman of the ministry said that Israeli officials were "very worried about the rise to power of people who promote hatred, Holocaust denial, and befriend Neo-Nazis. We see it as a disturbing development and are following the matter very closely".



Death and aftermath

Haider died of injuries from a car crash at Lambichl in Köttmannsdorf near Klagenfurt, in the state of Carinthia, in the early hours of 11 October 2008. He had been on his way to celebrate his mother's 90th birthday. Police reported that the Volkswagen Phaeton that Haider had been driving came off the road, rolled down an embankment and overturned, causing him "severe head and chest injuries". Haider, who was on his way from Stadtkraemer, a gay bar in Klagenfurt, where he had been drinking and had been meeting a young man after having previously quarreled with Stefan Petzner that same evening.

 He was alone in the government car and no other vehicles were involved. At the time of the crash, Haider's car was travelling at 142 km/h (88 mph) or faster, more than twice the legal speed limit of 70 km/h (43 mph) for that part of the Loiblpass-road. An initial investigation uncovered no signs of foul play, and conspiracy theories about the death have been strongly rejected by the Austrian police. Haider's widow denies that her husband was gay, and questions the official account of the accident. Haider's blood alcohol level at the time of the crash was 1.8 mg/L, more than three times the legal limit of 0.5 mg/L. This fact was noted by both Haider's spokesman and the state prosecutor. The director general of the Carinthian administration declared that in case the Governor had been intoxicated the State would have the right to recourse.

Austrian President Heinz Fischer said of Haider's death that it was a "human tragedy". Reactions in the press were mixed. Wolfgang Fellner, publisher of Österreich, wrote: "I have fought bitterly" with Jörg Haider, but "finally, Haider became a gentle, considerate, almost wise politician ... Alas, he was once again too fast." Haider "died as he lived: always full of gas, always over the limit", Fellner concluded.

 But Ernst Trost pointed out in the Kronen Zeitung that while Haider had enjoyed a "comet-like rise" in politics, he also had "ever again embarked on self-destructive actions and provoked opposition." The Chief Editor of Kurier, Christoph Kotanko, wrote that "however much his brown tones, xenophobia and aggressive populism were to be rejected ... Haider's criticism of the dominant conditions of the 1980s and 90s was partly also justified", and he had "named, fought and in part also changed" those conditions.

On 25 January 2009, the Lippitzbachbrücke was renamed to "Jörg-Haider-Brücke".

In 2009, the consequences of Haider's financial policies became apparent when the Bavarian-Carinthian Hypo-Alpe-Adria Bank got into serious difficulties, later leading to the bank's nationalization. Swiss paper Tagesanzeiger wrote about "Haider's money destruction machine". Carinthia now has the highest per-capita debt in Austria.



Posthumous controversies

Haider's widow, Claudia, took the German newspaper Bild-Zeitung to court for publishing interviews with a man claiming to have been Jörg Haider's lover for many years. In October 2009, an Austrian court ruled it illegal for media to call Jörg Haider a homosexual because it would be "breach of personal and privacy rights." In its ruling the court threatened a fine of up to €100,000 for anybody "who claims and/or distributes the claim, that Jörg Haider was a homosexual and/or bisexual and/or that he has had a male lover." The court also issued preliminary injunctions against Bild Zeitung, the Austrian paper Österreich and the Austrian magazine News.

According to a confiscated black booklet handwritten by Walter Meischberger, a former Freedom Party politician, Austrian authorities said they would examine a diary that allegedly detailed money transfers from Saddam and Gaddafi. The diary reportedly mentions a $58.7m transfer from Gaddafi, as well as more than $13.3m that unidentified individuals brought back from Iraq. It also references an anonymous confidant who supposedly brought a suitcase filled with $6.6m from Switzerland to Munich for investment purposes; the money was supposed to have come from a Swiss account belonging to the deceased Uday Hussein and Qusay Hussein.


Source: wikipedia.org

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