A Nazi youth brochure corners the Vice President of Bavaria

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A leaflet with Nazi and anti-Semitic content distributed in a German high school in the late 1980s threatens to bring down the vice president of Bavaria, Hubert Aiwanger, with a month and a half left before the regional elections in this prosperous southern land. The brochure, a typewritten flyer whose existence was revealed on Saturday by the Munich newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) pretends to be a contest to choose the “greatest traitor to the country” and promises macabre prizes, mocking concentration camps and the Holocaust.

Aiwanger, 52, denied in a statement that he was the author of the text, which was written in 1987, when he was 17 years old. His older brother has claimed authorship, but doubts persist, as various witnesses from the time claim that copies of the pamphlet were found in Aiwanger's school bag, who then did not deny having written it, and that the director of the institute punished him by commissioning him do a history paper on the Third Reich.

The 1987 anti-Semitic text promised prizes in an alleged contest such as "a free flight through the chimneys of Auschwitz."

"In the Bavarian government there is no place for anti-Semitism," the president of Bavaria, the Social Christian Markus Söder, warned at a press conference after a meeting yesterday with the aforementioned, his coalition partner. Söder now requires him to answer 25 questions in writing, before deciding whether or not to keep him in office.

Hubert Aiwanger, Vice President and Minister of the Economy of Bavaria, is the regional leader of Free Voters (FW, for its acronym in German), a locally established conservative party, located further to the right than the Christian Social CSU, the hegemonic political formation. They have been in government together since November 2018 – the Länder elections are held every five years – and Söder has said that he aspires to repeat the alliance after the October 8 polls. By summoning him to answer the 25 questions, Söder buys time for Aiwanger and FW to find a way out of the scandal that does not compromise the renewal of the government pact.

The anti-Semitic leaflet has rocked the election campaign, with echoes throughout Germany. “Whoever makes fun of the victims of Auschwitz cannot assume responsibility in our country; It is urgent to clarify these serious accusations ”, the Minister of the Interior, the Social Democrat Nancy Faeser, wrote over the weekend on her X account (former Twitter). Foreign Minister Olaf Scholz demanded immediate clarification on Monday.

Bavarian President Markus Söder at the press conference in Munich on August 29 in which he announced his position on Aiwanger de

Leonhard Simon / REUTERS

The Social Christian leader

Markus Söder, president of Bavaria, requires Aiwanger to answer 25 questions about the anti-Semitic pamphlet before deciding whether or not to keep him in the regional government

In the flyer – which a former classmate of Aiwanger had kept, and which the diary SZ has thus been able to reproduce -, candidates for the supposed competition are encouraged to appear "at the Dachau concentration camp for a job interview". The first prize was “a free flight through the chimneys of Auschwitz”, and the others were “a stay forever in a mass grave” or “a free shot in the neck”. Aiwanger assures in his statement that he did not write those sentences, but that he does not remember if he distributed leaflets and admits that some were found in his briefcase.

Free Voters claims to be a conservative and liberal-bourgeois party, but its man in Bavaria has shown ideas close to the far-right AfD, especially on immigration. During covid, he declared himself anti-vaccine.

The latest electoral polls in Bavaria give the CSU 39% (that is, again without an absolute majority), followed by The Greens (14%), Free Voters (12%) and the Social Democratic Party (9%). The FDP liberals would have 4%, less than the necessary threshold, so they would be left out of the regional Parliament.

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