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Austrian party fires spokesman for SS postings

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Austria's far-right Freedom Party has fired the spokesman for its Vienna branch for reportedly posting quotes from wartime Nazi marching songs on Facebook.

"We are looking closely into the matter, but independent of that the Vienna FPOe and Stefan Gotschacher have gone their separate ways with immediate effect," the party said on Wednesday.

According to the Falter weekly, Gotschacher posted on the social networking website lines from the Nazi era song "SS marschiert im Feindesland" ("SS marches in enemy land").

Contacted by Falter, the former journalist said he had copied the quotes without knowing where they came from and expressed shock that they were from the "criminal" Waffen SS.

He was quoted by the weekly saying that he would delete the postings immediately, along with quotes from far-right band Stahlgewitter, whose name means "storm of steel".

The eurosceptic and anti-immigration FPOe has often been accused of having ties to neo-Nazis but seeks to present a more respectable face to voters.

According to the latest polls ahead of elections in September, the opposition party is the third-most popular party in Austria with support of around 20 percent.

The party confirmed meanwhile Thursday a press report that its leader Heinz-Christian Strache had reacted to criticism about racist and other offensive postings by others on his Facebook page.

According to the News weekly, postings on his popular page -- he has far more "fans" that other Austrian politicians -- that included words such as "Hitler", "Jude" ("Jew") or "Neger" ("nigger") would be blocked.

Last August Strache caused an uproar by "sharing" a cartoon of a banker with a hooked nose and Star of David cufflinks that critics said looked like something straight out of a Nazi propaganda caricature of a Jew.

Strache then had the cartoon altered to delete the emblems on the cufflinks and to shorten the banker's nose, but the original can still be seen online at http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151042880513591&set=a.226243068....

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130411/austrian-party-fires-spokesman-ss-postings-0