| A lunatic Chaplin imitator|
and his greatest fans
|First as tragedy|
|Then as farce|
Jörg Haider (1950—2008) was the other over-the-top Austrian politician with a peculiar taste in friends and an interesting personal life. He was a xenophobe, an anti-Semite, a hardcore nationalist and a Nazi sympathizer.
Haider's parents were early members of the Austrian branch of the Nazi Party, although he was born in 1950, after the war was over and Nazi Germany had been defeated, so he missed out on the "good times." His parents received some relatively minor punishment[note 1] for their Nazi membership, which Haider later claimed was overly harsh. He eventually went to the university and became a lawyer, and then became rich when a friend bequeathed him an estate in the Austrian state of Carinthia.
In the late 1970's and early 1980's, Haider became heavily involved in politics, focusing on Carinthia, which is known for being a fairly conservative-leaning state. Haider joined up with the Freedom Party of Austria (German: Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs, or FPÖ for short), which at the time was basically a centrist party. Haider quickly came to dominate the party, and once he rose to party leadership, began a concerted effort to push the party from the center to the far-right. In 1989, he was elected governor of Carinthia, but a couple years later was forced to resign when, during a political debate, he claimed that Hitler had better labor policies than Austria's current policies.[note 2] Despite the setback, Haider continued to push the FPÖ further to the right, heavily emphasizing anti-immigration (particularly Islamophobia[note 3]), anti-EU and populist rhetoric, and he was able to make himself the virtual dictator of all of Austria's fringe right-wing loonies. During this time, he continued making remarks that made him seem like a pro-Nazi and anti-Semitic ass.
In 2000, the FPÖ formed a coalition government with the conservative Austrian People's Party (Österreichische Volkspartei, or ÖVP for short). Other European countries flipped their shit, since they were pretty well aware of Haider's reputation. Eventually Haider resigned as party leader, but his replacement was no better, and shortly thereafter, he demanded to be reinstated as the party's
führer leader – but he was denied this, so he threw a fit and went back to Carinthia to become governor again. In 2005, because it was clear he was losing control of the party in a fit of lucidity, he and some followers decided to split off from the FPÖ and created a totally new party, the "Alliance for the Future of Austria" (Bündnis Zukunft Österreich, or BZÖ for short); after Haider and his sister (who had become party leader) left, the FPÖ fell under the sway of a former dental technician named Heinz-Christian Strache, who ruled led it until 2019, when he and the party were embroiled in a corruption scandal. This new BZÖ party was only marginally less crazy than the FPÖ, but managed to steal a large chunk of their membership. The two parties fiercely fought each other, which hurt both parties at the polls, pretty much right up until 2008.
Haider died in a car crash in 2008 – initial conspiracy theories surrounding his death ran out of steam after it was revealed that he was blind drunk and speeding late at night. On the upside, because Haider had his accident in October, his death made good fodder for Austria's annual Christmas anti-drunk driving campaign. Shortly after his death, rumors began to circulate that he was a homosexual (one particular possible partner having been his successor as BZÖ leader), and his widow had to go to court to stop the spread of these rumors. Since Haider's death, the BZÖ has been slowly fading and no longer holds any seats in the Austrian parliament, while the FPÖ has been steadily recovering from the post-split strife.
- "Relatively minor" considering that most of the high-ranking Nazis were executed or given long prison sentences. Haider's mother was forbidden from teaching for a few years, and Haider's father had to work for a while as a gravedigger.
- As the reader may be aware, Austria and Germany have... putting it simply... a really bad history when it comes to Nazis. So saying nice things about Hitler or the Nazis is not only strongly discouraged, it's technically illegal. Additionally, Haider's comment was especially horrible when one remembers that the Nazis had no problem forcing "undesirable" people to work as slaves....
- Read this quote. Reconcile that with everything you know about Nazism.