A far-right union representative is in hot water after he was photographed taking part in a local ski race while wearing the number 88 – associated with the Nazi salute.
As the letter H is the eighth letter in the alphabet, 88 is regarded as a symbol for the Nazi salute ‘Heil Hitler’, making it popular among far-right extremists, with the number 18 used for Adolf Hitler.
However, one member of the far right Freedom Party of Austria (FPOe) who is the trade union representative at the local port, may have gone too far with the bad taste joke as the use of Nazi symbols is banned in Austria.
As a result of the ski-number incident, officials in the town of Hadersdorf-Kammern in the district of Krems-Land in the Austrian state of Lower Austria are now investigating the matter.
Defending his move, Roman Soellner said: “Seven colleagues talked me into it, they put the number in my hand and I just used it. Of course, I’m wiser now after the event, but at the time it didn’t occur to me how much of a problem this would cause.”
FPOe general secretary and MP Michael Schnedlitz called the whole thing “ridiculous”.
He said: “This was an official start number, and if you want to make a fuss about it then you need to delete all numbers that include 88 and 18.”
Soellner said he believes he was taken advantage of, because it all happened towards the end of the race when he had already completed his ski run and was not scheduled to go again until being given the number 88.
He said that he just put the number on and was promptly photographed with the snap ending up in the local paper right before a key election vote was due to take place.
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