Austria Faces Questions Over Nazi-Era Hitler Bell
An Austrian castle, located 60 miles east of Vienna, has sparked concern after it was revealed that it contains a bell dedicated to Adolf Hitler.
The bell, carved with a swastika, was installed in 1939 by Austrians sympathetic to the Nazis and has apparently evaded notice for over 70 years, according to reports.
The bell tolls every hour in Wolfpassing village and has an inscription that describes Hitler as "the unifier and Fuhrer of all Germans" and says the Nazi dictator freed Austira “from the yoke of suppression by foreign elements and brought it home into the Great German Reich."
The Austrian government sold the castle to its current owner, Tobias Hufnagl, who has not made public his plans for the bell.
Economics Minister Reinhold Mitterlehner says the agency overseeing the sale was not aware of the inscription and noted that "the bell up to now was neither publicly displayed nor generally accessible."
Ernst Eichinger, a spokesman for the agency responsible for government real-estate, said the agency "cannot search every centimeter" before a sale.
Local historian Johannes Kammerstaetter has asked state prosecutors to examine whether the government's sale of the bell was a criminal offence.
He says the change of ownership could constitute a case of "spreading National Socialist ideology" on the part of the government agency in charge of state-owned property.
Propagating Nazi values or praising the era is illegal in Austria.
"The best thing would be if the bell disappeared and was buried somewhere,” said Raimund Fastenbauer, a prominent member of Vienna's Jewish community.