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Austrian report Austrian report
by Euro Reporter
2011-06-03 09:18:25
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‘Hundreds’ of Austrian informers found in Czechoslovak archives

Czechoslovak communist era secret police archives show how hundreds of Austrians were paid to help secure the Cold War border. A sinister chapter in the history of post-war Austria has been revealed in the archives of the Czechoslovak communist-era secret police (StB) who worked with border guards to secure the vulnerable frontier. Newly released documents from the Slovak institute that stores and processes the archive of the communist-era secret police and other security services, the Nation’s Memory Institute (ÚPN), describe how hundreds of Austrians were willing paid informers and collaborators as the Czechoslovak regime tried to stem escape attempts.

Not only did the often well-paid recruits inform their handlers who had escaped, in some cases they actually drugged them and carried them across the frontier to hand them over to the Czechoslovak secret police. “The reward transporting such escapees back was in the range of thousands of schillings,” the director of the ÚP’s documentation division, Lubomír Morbacher, told the Czech daily Lidové Noviny, who added that most of the Austrian recruits collaborated not through any left-leaning idealism but for the prospect of hard, convertible cash. Among the favourite recruits were poorly paid Austrian border guards, who could supply the Czechoslovak secret police with the names of escapees. This allowed the StB to take revenge on their relatives back home and try to break escapee networks.

The Slovak documents cite the case of one Austrian customs officer from the border town of Kittsee, just across the border from Bratislava, who had the code name Silva. He arranged 52 meetings with his Czechoslovak counterparts and delivered 165 items of intelligence information for the some of 39,000 Austrian Schillings. Morbacher told the Slovak paper SME that the number of such Austrian informers is still being mapped out but their total probably came to several hundreds. “The intelligence services at the end of the ’50s and ’60s sought agents not just from Austrian border units but also from local people and at camps for emigrants,” the ÚPN’s Vladimír Palka told the paper. The StB was also able to infiltrate one of its own agents at the Austrian refugee camp of Traiskirchen in 1991. During a six-month period the agent was able to send back 102 piece of intelligence before returning across the border. The short stretch of border between Austria and former Czechoslovakia not far from Slovak capital Bratislava was a favourite point for escape attempts after the communist regime seized power in February 1948.

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Austrian councilman resigns over Nazi tattoo


A member of a southern Austrian village's municipal council has stepped down following uproar over his Nazi-inspired tattoo. In a resignation letter dated May 30 and sent to the village's mayor, Gerry Leitmann, 31, said he was not aware of his tattoo's "historic connections" and will have it removed immediately, according to The Associated Press.

The tattoo reads "Blut und Ehre" -- translated into English as "Blood and Honor, the slogan and motto of the Hitler Youth -- and is inked on Leitmann's upper arm. Local Ebenthal politicians first saw the tattoo at a council meeting last week when Leitmann wore a short-sleeved shirt, the Austrian Independent newspaper reported. Even if he removes it, Leitmann could still face jail time or fines under Austria's federal anti-Nazi mind-set law, regarded as one of the strictest in the world.

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Austrian unemployment drops to 6.1pc


Austria’s unemployment rate fell to 6.1 percent in May, down from 6.6, provisional figures from the labour ministry showed on Wednesday. The number of jobseekers stood at 2,287,149 including those on professional training courses, the data showed.

The drop in the jobless rate is “a clear sign that there has not been a wave of workers from neighbouring countries to the east,” following the opening up of the job market on, May 1, to the newest EU nations, said Labour Minister Rudolf Hundstorfer in a statement.

According to official EU figures, the Austrian unemployment rate raised to 4.2 percent in April, with the Netherlands the lowest level in the Eurozone. The difference is due to a different calculation as Austrian statistics include “under-employed” people who take the occasional odd job.


      
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