Sebastian Kurz
Sebastian Kurz Reuters

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz on Thursday called for punishing with the “the full severity of the law” the authors of an anti-Semitic poem that appeared in a fraternity’s songbook, JTA reported.

The poem, which was printed in 1997 to be used in the Germania zu Wiener Neustadt fraternity, reads, “In their midst comes the Jew Ben-Gurion: ‘Step on the gas, you ancient Germanic peoples, we’ll manage the seventh million.”

Kurz spoke out about the booklet in a statement following a report earlier this week on it by the Austrian Falter weekly magazine. Racist hate speech is illegal in Austria.

The Germania zu Wiener Neustadt fraternity said the person who was responsible for the poem has been identified and excluded for any membership in the organization.

The songbook became major national news in Austria this week because Udo Landbauer, a cabinet minister from the far-right Freedom Party, was a member of the fraternity.

The Freedom Party was founded by a former Nazi officer, but has long fought accusations of tolerating anti-Semitism in its ranks. It entered Kurz's government in December after elections in October.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry has indicated it would limit its contact with the ministries headed by the Freedom Party to the professional staff, but Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will maintain direct contact with Kurz.

Kurz, for his part, has vowed to combat anti-Semitism, urging citizens not to forget "the sad and shameful days of March 1938," when Nazi troops marched in to a rapturous welcome.

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