Austrians Believe Nazi Party Could Win Parliament Seats Today; Some Say Hitler's Rule 'Not All Bad'

03/11/2013 06:10 pm ET

A new poll published in Austria suggests modern Nazis could win elected office in the European country if given the chance. In addition, of the several hundred Austrians surveyed, about 42 percent said that Hitler's Austria wasn't all bad.

The results of the poll, conducted by Market Institut agency, were published this weekend in the Austrian paper Der Standard. Of the 502 people who responded, 42 percent said "not everything was bad under Adolf Hitler," while 54 percent said Nazi party members could win parliament seats today, the Associated Press notes.

The Austrian poll's results are purely speculative, however, given that Austria's constitution bans neo-Nazi organizations, according to Reuters.

This is a sensitive time for Austria -- which is preparing to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Hitler's annexation of the country on March 12, 1938 -- and the results of the poll are unlikely to make Hitler's legacy in the country less complicated.

According to AP, Hitler was initially welcomed into Austria by cheering and saluting crowds and there is now "widespread acknowledgement" that Austrians were among some of Hitler's committed accomplices.

"We are never permitted to forget or diminish the darkest time in the history of our country," Chancellor Werner Faymann said during a remembrance ceremony on Monday, the AP reports. "We need solidarity and a union against racism, fascism and right-wing extremism."

The percentage of Austrians who desired a strong male leader has grown since 2008, according to Reuters. At the same time, right-wing parties are expected to do fairly well in national elections this September.

The Independent notes that Austria has been harshly criticized by organizations, such as the Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC), for its track record on bringing Nazi war criminals to justice.

In its 2010 Nazi War Criminal Report, the SWC gave Austria a grade of F-2, meaning while there were no "obstacles to the investigation and prosecution of suspected Nazi war criminals," Austria's "efforts (or lack thereof) have resulted in complete failure during the period under review, primarily due to the absence of political will to proceed and/or a lack of the requisite resources and/or expertise."

The poll results come on the heels of recent revelations that almost half of the musicians in the Vienna Philharmonic were card-carrying Nazis in 1942, according to the Los Angeles Times. Researchers also reported that at least five of the Philharmonic's Jewish musicians died in prisons or concentration camps.

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