Ulrichsberg gathering

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Traditional and Veterans organisations and army musicians at the Ulrichsberg gathering of 2006

The Ulrichsberg gathering (Ulrichsberggemeinschaft / Heimkehrer- und Europagedenkstätte) is an Austrian organisation with political interests, named after the Ulrichsberg mountain in Kärnten that was founded after World War II. It is considered as part of the Kärnten traditional organisations. The purpose of the organisation is to care for the memorials to returning soldiers (Heimkehrergedenkstätte) on the Ulrichsberg and in Klagenfurt, as well as the organisation of an annual meeting of war veterans and their families.

The organisation[edit]

The Ulrichsberggemeinschaft ("Ulrichsberg society") was founded on 1 June 1953, and is based in Klagenfurt.[1] Various Klagenfurt politician belonged to the society, including then mayor of Klagenfurt, Leopold Guggenberger (ÖVP), who succeeded acting Landeshauptmann Rudolf Gallob (SPÖ), who had resigned in 2009 because "the clear rules to avoid extremism" had failed.[2] Ex-minister Herbert Haupt (BZÖ) and Klagenfurt mayor Harald Scheucher (ÖVP) supported the organisation as members. Scheucher's father Blasius Scheucher had served as a Gebirgsjäger and was a founder member of the society. Since 2002, besides membership fees and donations, a significant proportion of the finance of the society has been provided by the Bundesland Kärnten. Between 2005 and 2012, the society received 115 thousand Euro from state funds. Landesrat Wolfgang Waldner reported that this subsidy would be significantly reduced in future,[3] and that if the society were not to distance itself completely from right-wing radicalism, the subsidy would be completely cut.[4]

Ulrichsberg meeting[edit]

Wreath-laying by the Kameradschaft IV-Landesverband Steiermark - Südburgenland as part of the Ulrichsberg meeting of 2008
Commemorative plaque for the Heimatvertriebene.

Since 1958 there has been a regular memorial on the small meadow next to the cross for the victims of both world wars and of the defence of Kärnten. Right-wing and neo-nazi groups have also been known to frequent this meeting, and it is therefore observed by the Austrian Verfassungsschutz (Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution and Counterterrorism).[5]

In 2009, the Austrian army under Norbert Darabos ended its logistic support for the meeting. At the same time, the defence minister also forbade the wearing of army uniforms at meetings of the Ulrichsberg society. Darabos distanced himself from the meeting of veterans, because "the Ulrichsberg meetings have always had a right-wing flavour".[6] For these reasons, as well as the political controversy, the 2009 meeting was completely cancelled. BZÖ governor Gerhard Dörfler also distanced himself from the meeting, because it was "politically too far right".[7]

About 400 people took part at the 2010 meeting, which took place at the herzogstuhl (Duke's Chair).[8] In 2011, the meeting took place at the Klagenfurt concert hall, and the Verfassungschutz reported that about 100 people attended.[9]

In 2012, the meeting returned to the Ulrichsberg. One of the speeches was held by a previous Hitlerjugend and Waffen-SS member Herbert Belschan von Mildenburg, although this had been denied by the organisers beforehand. Instead of the expected crowd of 1000, only about 300 people attended the meeting.[10]

Political appearances and controversies[edit]

In 1995, FPÖ governor Jörg Haider notably expressed his thanks to the attending Waffen-SS veterans:

That in these difficult times, where there are still honest people with character and who until today remain true to their convictions despite strong contrary winds. [...] We give money to terrorists, to violent newspapers, to work-shy rabble, and we have no money for respectable people.

— Jörg Haider, 30 September 1995 in Krumpendorf, to Waffen-SS veterans at the Ulrichsberg gathering.[11]

Jörg Haider had a significant influence on the public image of the society with another speech:

[...] it cannot be that bizarre commentaries turn the history of our parents and grandparents into an album of crime, and that their achievements are trampled by history.

— Jörg Haider speaking at the Ulrichsberg meeting of 2000[12]

The meeting as such, as well as the participation of the three largest parties in Kärnten (FPÖ, SPÖ und ÖVP) has recently been strongly criticised.

Protests against the meeting[edit]

Traditional group "HIAG Ostsachsen" at the Ulrichsberg meeting at Ulrichsberg mountain in 2003

In the night of 17 August 1997, the Ulrichsberg memorial site was defaced and the memorial plaques were destroyed. An Antifa group „kommando z.a.l.a.“[13] claimed responsibility for the act. Recently, various Antifa-organisations from the Kärnten scene have manned infopoints and held protest meetings at the time of the Ulrichsberg meetings, to point out the revisionist background of the meetings. According to the 2009 Verfassunsschutz report, foreign activists, especially from Germany, have taken part in the counter-demonstrations. In 2008, the counter-demonstrations led to blockades, scuffles and property damage.[14] In 2007, a functionary of the Ulrichsberg society and a policeman were injured.[15]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Zentrales Vereinsregister des BMI, ZVR-Zahl 454661194
  2. ^ http://ktnv1.orf.at/stories/385640
  3. ^ http://derstandard.at/1369362069610/Kaernten-will-Foerderung-fuer-Ulrichsberggemeinschaft-kuerzen
  4. ^ http://derstandard.at/1369362069610/Kaernten-will-Foerderung-fuer-Ulrichsberggemeinschaft-kuerzen
  5. ^ Ulrichsberg-Treffen fand von Öffentlichkeit unbemerkt statt, derStandard am 16. September 2014
  6. ^ http://derstandard.at/1250691154947/Ulrichsberg-Darabos-sagt-Teilnahme-des-Bundesheeres-ab
  7. ^ http://derstandard.at/1250691370275/Kaernten-Veranstalter-sagen-Ulrichsberg-Treffen-ab
  8. ^ http://www.mein-klagenfurt.at/mein-klagenfurt/events-veranstaltungen/warst-du-dabei/september-2010/ulrichsbergtreffen-am-herzogstuhl/
  9. ^ http://ktnv1.orf.at/stories/538350
  10. ^ Mitglied-der-Waffen-SS-hielt-doch-Ansprache-bei-Ulrichsbergtreffen, derStandard am 16. September 2012
  11. ^ Ruth Wodak, Anton Pelinka, The Haider Phenomenon in Austria, Transaction Publishers 2002, ISBN 0-7658-0883-8, S. 211
  12. ^ Walter Fanta, Valentin Sima (Hg.): „Stehst mitten drin im Land“. Das europäische Kameradentreffen auf dem Kärntner Ulrichsberg von den Anfängen bis heute; Klagenfurt: Drava, S.100
  13. ^ Republik Österreich, BM.I Bundesministerium für Inneres, Verfassungsschutzbericht1997http://www.bmi.gv.at/cms/BMI_Verfassungsschutz/Verfassungsschutzbericht_1997.pdf
  14. ^ Republik Österreich, BM.I Bundesministerium für Inneres, Verfassungsschutzbericht 2009 (PDF; 913 kB)
  15. ^ Republik Österreich, BM.I Bundesministerium für Inneres, Verfassungsschutzbericht 2008 (PDF; 1,5 MB)

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Norbert Rencher: Ulrichsberg-Dokumentation, Nr. 1, 1999
  • Walter Fanta, Valentin Sima (Hg.): „Stehst mitten drin im Land“. Das europäische Kameradentreffen auf dem Kärntner Ulrichsberg von den Anfängen bis heute; Klagenfurt: Drava, 2003; ISBN 3-85435-417-7