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Austria Accused Of Ignoring Giant Nazi Swastika

A huge swastika that has scarred the walls of an Austrian castle for the past 80 years is still on view despite breaching strict postwar rules banning all Nazi symbols.

Austrian officials stand accused of prevarication over the massive swastika that was painted on the side of Hochkraig Castle in the state of Carinthia in 1934.

The local castle has been approached by officials of the Mauthausen concentration camp museum and memorial in Austria asking for it to be covered over - but the local authority said it doesn't "feel responsible" for removing it.

A spokesman for the Mauthausen organisation Peter Gstettner said that it was unbelievable that the symbol that been allowed to sit in plain view for more than 80 years and even more incredible that nothing has happened despite frequent attempts to have it removed.

The owner of the castle Peter Goess, 55, has however warned that the castle is no longer a safe structure, and any attempt to remove it could be dangerous for those involved in the removal operation. He has been backed up by the Austrian monuments commission which also warned that there was a danger the walls could crumble if any workers attempted to gain access to the swastika.

The castle is located in the community of Frauenstein and Gstettner added: "The symbol that has been there since the time of the National Socialist attempted takeover in 1934 is still there 80 years later on the same place. That simply shouldn't be allowed to happen."

The country's Monument Protection Association agreed in principle with the complaint but added that its removal was extremely difficult because of the danger that the monument might collapse. The symbol on the wall "was not simply painted on it", and it would have to be ground out rather than simply painted over. In doing that, there was the risk that the castle wall might collapse.

The Monument Protection Association added that they favoured turning the symbol into an art project and perhaps putting up signs and a small exhibition in the area about National Socialism and Nazi symbols. But that project also failed to take root because of objections from the owner of the castle and the surrounding ground, Mr Goess. He said: "I don't need any pilgrims traipsing here whether they are from the left or the right of the political spectrum."

He added that he personally had no interest at all in the National Socialist heritage but they were the ones that had engraved the swastika into the wall and if anything was to be done about removing it, it was Austrian officials who will have to pay and not himself.

He said only professionally qualified climbers with special equipment would be able to gain access and it would be dangerous. He added that he had also cut off the access to the ruined castle and alleged that it wasn't possible see it anyway from a distance.

Austrian Mauthausen Committee has non-partisan and non-religious aims to prevent every form of fascism, racism, Neo-Nazism, chauvinism and anti-semitism. It is responsible for scientific and educational work concerning the Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp and its satellite camps in Austria, and was founded in 1997.

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