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Public Actions Manifestation of Austrian neo-Nazis

Statistics show a steady increase in the number of violations of anti-Nazi legislation in recent years: in 2010 a total of 711 violations of the National Socialism Prohibition Act 1947 (Verbotsgesetz) were reported to the authorities; 153 cases were brought to court, 640 complaints were not prosecuted, 244 trials were not completed. There were 45 convictions and 7 acquittals. In 2010, 152 cases of incitement to hatred were registered under the National Socialism Prohibition Act, i.e. incitement to hatred based on National Socialist ideology.

The total rose to 940 cases in 2012 and to 1,900 cases by 2013. Almost half of these crimes involve denial of the Holocaust or any other National Socialist crimes against humanity on the Internet. Another large proportion of these crimes are actions aimed at reviving the spirit of National Socialism.

It is true that the increase in anti-Nazi law violations is largely due to hate speech on the Internet, in particular forums and social networks, attacks on Jews, Roma and groups of "foreigners" in connection with National Socialism. The case of "alpen-donau.info" was particularly notable and led to 18 searches of the suspects' residences.

Lately, however, there has been a tendency to deny prosecutions under these articles. In 2017 in particular, not a single glorification of German National Socialism and/or its minions was recorded in the verdicts of Austrian courts or in the decisions of law enforcement agencies. This does not mean that the reasons for criminal proceedings have disappeared. Thus, on February 13, 2017, police detained a 25-year-old man for glorifying Nazism who appeared in public in the image of Adolf Hitler. The young man was detained in Adolf Hitler's hometown of Braunau am Inn, a local police spokesman said.

The man was spotted taking pictures near the house where Hitler was born, Reuters reported, citing the Austrian daily newspaper Oberoesterreichische Nachrichten. The doppelganger was also seen in a local bookstore looking through World War II magazines.

Police spokesman told the BBC that the arrested man had recently moved to a town on the German border. The young man had previously been seen in Vienna and Graz. Several pictures of the Hitler look-alike were published by the Austrian website Heute. In the photos it can be seen that the man has arranged his hair in the manner of the dictator of the Third Reich. Also the characteristic black mustache adds a resemblance to Hitler. In addition, the man wears a jacket that resembles the Nazi uniform.

According to the newspaper, in a local bar, the detainee identified himself as "Harald Hitler." However, a police spokesman noted in a conversation with the BBC that the young man is quite serious about his image, and his actions are not a carnival joke or an art performance. "The young man knows exactly what he is doing," Reuters quoted a police spokesman as saying. Nevertheless, we do not know what punishment the detainee has incurred.

There are many such or similar cases in the city of Braunau am Inn. The house in which Hitler was born is gradually becoming a place of worship for right-wing radicals. As a result, in October 2016, the Austrian Interior Minister promised to demolish Hitler's childhood home in Braunau am Inn in order to stop its transformation into a place of pilgrimage for neo-Nazis from all over the world. Then, the Austrian authorities specified that for the sake of preserving history, they do not want to destroy the building, but to redesign it so that it would be unrecognizable. There has been a heated debate about the house since 2009, when it was put up for sale by Gelinda Pommer, whose family had owned the yellow, three-story house since the 19th century.

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