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Sculptor praised Nazism - investigators

Vienna -

Conflicting messages, one pro-Nazi, the other pacifist, have been found in the base of Vienna's largest war memorial following an investigation.

file photo - Austria's first monument to Jews killed by the Nazis was unveiled in Vienna, as a testimony to the almost complete eradication of the country's Jewish community in World War Two. Credit: REUTERS

The discovery announced on Thursday confirms rumours that sculptor Wilhelm Frass had hidden a message praising Nazism in the statue of a soldier commemorating the Austrian dead of World War I.

Historian Heidemarie Uhl said the two messages were evidence of the ambivalence of the period in the mid-1930s before Austria was annexed by Nazi Germany.

The one written by Frass, dated April 8, 1935, refers to the “eternal strength of the German people” and calls for unity “under the sign of the black sun.”

The second message, signed by sculptor Alfons Riedel, thought to be an assistant of Frass, was clearly written in haste, Uhl said.

“I wish future generations will never again make it necessary for our people to erect monuments to soldiers who fell in violent conflicts between nations,” he wrote.

After analysis the two documents will be preserved in Vienna's military history museum.

The messages, placed in capsules, were found during work on the crypt in Vienna's Heroes Square, with the aim of removing all unwelcome historical references before Austria's next national day on October 26.

Defence Minister Norbert Darabos, who ordered the work, has also ordered the name of a Nazi war criminal, Josef Vallaster, erased from a register of victims of World War II. - Sapa-AFP

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