It was quite a turn-out at Jörg Haider’s memorial service in Klagenfurt on Saturday. About 25,000 people were there. Among them was Muammer Gaddafi’s son, an old friend of the late Austrian politician. So, too, was Alfred Gusenbauer, Austria’s Social Democratic chancellor, whose presence reminded us all – if we needed reminding – that Haider, to Austrians, was never the polecat that he was to the rest of the world.
Much ink has been spilt on explanations of Haider’s popularity among Austrians. Perhaps it was because his mother and father, like many Austrians before 1945, were devoted Nazis. Perhaps it was because Haider likened the expulsion of the Sudeten Germans from Czechoslovakia after the Second World War to the Nazi extermination of Europe’s Jews. Read more