Herbert Schweiger makes no attempt to hide his Nazi views. At his home in the Austrian mountains, the former SS officer gazes out of a window to a view of a misty alpine valley. Described to me as the ‘Puppet Master’ of the far right, Schweiger, 85, is a legendary figure for neo-Nazis across the world.
‘Our time is coming again and soon we will have another leader like Hitler,’ he says.
Still remarkably sharp-minded, Schweiger was a lieutenant in the infamous Waffen SS Panzer Division Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler, an elite unit originally formed before WWII to act as the Führer’s personal bodyguards.
This is his first interview for four years and the first he has ever given to a journalist from outside Austria. It happens a few weeks before he is due to appear in court charged with promoting neo-Nazi ideology.
It will be the fifth time he has stood trial for breaking a law, the Verbotsgesetz, enacted in 1947 to halt the spread of fascist ideology. He has been found guilty twice and acquitted twice. It quickly becomes apparent that little has changed in Schweiger’s mindset since his Third Reich days.
‘The Jew on Wall Street is responsible for the world’s current economic crisis. It is the same now as in 1929 when 90 per cent of money was in the hands of the Jew. Hitler had the right solutions then,’ he says, invoking the language of Goebbels.
The room is filled with mementos from his past and indicators of his sickening beliefs. His bookshelf is a library of loathing. I spot a book by controversial British Holocaust denier David Irvingand one on the ‘myth of Auschwitz’. On a shelf hangs a pennant from the SS Death’s Head unit that ran Hitler’s concentration camps. Such memorabilia is banned in Austria but Schweiger defiantly displays his Nazi possessions.
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