Austrian diplomat recalled from Israel over ‘Nazi t-shirt’ photo

Jürgen-Michael Kleppich was summoned by the Austrian Foreign Minister after posting a picture of himself wearing a shirt with the name of a Nazi tank division.

By: Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

An attache in the Austrian embassy in Israel has been recalled over a Facebook post that showed him wearing a T-shirt sold by an online store that specializes in clothing that appeals to followers of extremist right-wing ideology, reported the Falter, an Austrian weekly, on Wednesday.

The green shirt had the words “Stand your ground” and “Frundsberg” on it. Frundsberg was a moniker for the Nazis’ 10th SS Panzer division, which fought against the western Allies in the Netherlands, France and Germany, and on the Eastern front against the Red Army.

The attache, Jürgen-Michael Kleppich, is a member of the far-right Freedom Party (FPOe), which came to power last December in a coalition with the center-right People’s Party. According to the Falter, this is not the first time he has posted controversial pictures in social media. A few months ago, he posted a picture of his grandfather in a swastika-adorned Nazi uniform.

He has also publicly supported colleagues in his party who have gotten into trouble in recent months over their alleged pro-Nazi sentiments, said the paper.

Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl, who hails from the People’s Party, has ordered Kleppich “be summoned to Vienna immediately to submit to a legal probe into the accusations in the media,” her ministry said on Tuesday.

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The FPOe, a party established by ex-Nazis in the 1950s, has struggled with its fascist image, and its current leader, Heinz-Christian Strache has promoted it as a social welfare party, albeit with a strong Austrian identity that is against unfettered immigration as being a danger to the country. He has also visited Israel several times and publicly denounced all forms of racism and anti-Semitism.

Israel, however, has carefully kept its distance, not having direct contact with any ministers from the FPOe party, a position that is supported by the Austrian Jewish community.