Austrian far-right politician resigns over 'deeply racist' rat poem

The leader of the right-wing Austrian Freedom Party (FPOe) Heinz-Christian Strache has resigned. Source: AAP

The far-right deputy mayor of Hitler's birthplace has resigned after a backlash over a poem he wrote comparing migrants to rats.

The vice-mayor of the Austrian town where Adolf Hitler was born resigned from his post and the far-right Freedom Party after provoking strong criticism with a poem in which he compared migrants with rats.

Christian Schilcher left the Freedom Party (FPO) to avoid damaging the junior partner in a national coalition with Chancellor Sebastian Kurz’s conservatives, FPO chief Heinz-Christian Strache told a news conference in Vienna.

Sebastian Kurz (R) and Heinz-Christian Strache.
Sebastian Kurz (R) and Heinz-Christian Strache.

Schilcher’s poem in a party newspaper was written under his pseudonym “the city rat” and told from the perspective of a rodent.

"Just as we live down here, so must other rats, who as guests or migrants... share with us the way of life! Or (they must) hurry away quickly," it says.

One verse adds that if two cultures were mixed it was as if they were destroyed.

Nazi German propaganda under Adolf Hitler, who was born in Braunau am Inn, frequently invoked comparisons between Jewish people and rodents. 

"Such misconduct is incompatible with the principles of the Freedom Party," said Strache, who is vice-chancellor in Austria’s coalition government.

Chancellor Sebastian Kurz condemned the poem and welcomed Schilcher's resignation.

"The resignation of the vice mayor #Braunau of was the only logical consequence of this vile and racist poem," he wrote in a statement posted on Twitter.

Chancellor Kurz has distanced himself from the far right party ahead of the next month's European elections. 

"The choice of words is disgusting, shows contempt for human beings and is deeply racist," he told Austrian news agency APA.

"The Freedom Party in Upper Austria must distance themselves from this immediately and unequivocally and issue a clarification," he added.

Heinz-Christian Strache wrote the controversial poem under his pseudonym "the city rat".
Heinz-Christian Strache wrote the controversial poem under his pseudonym "the city rat".

Freedom Party members have repeatedly stumbled over Nazi scandals and made headlines in local media for alleged links with the far-right Identitarian movement.

Schilcher’s resignation was “the only logical consequence” after publishing that “horrible and racist poem”, Kurz told news agency APA.

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