Vienna war memorial yields pro-Nazi and anti-war texts

  • 20 July 2012
  • From the section Europe
A man searches under the statue of the Unknown Soldier in Vienna
Image caption Rumours have been circulating for years that a Nazi document lay beneath the monument

Two conflicting texts - one pro-Nazi, the other pacifist - have been found under a statue at Vienna's main war memorial, Austrian officials say.

Both messages were in a metal capsule left under the statue of the Unknown Soldier in 1935 - three years before Austria was annexed by Nazi Germany.

The pro-Nazi message, by sculptor Wilhelm Frass, hopes for German unity under the Sonnenrad, the swastika.

The anti-war message was signed by sculptor Alfons Riedel.

The metal capsule has now been removed, and the memorial will be redesigned.

Several times a year, Austrian leaders and visiting dignitaries lay wreaths at the statue of the Unknown Soldier, the BBC's Bethany Bell in the Austrian capital reports.

But for years the war memorial was dogged by rumours that a Nazi document had been hidden there, our correspondent adds.

The capsule was unearthed after an investigation ordered by Austrian Defence Minister Norbert Darabos.

The pro-Nazi message speaks of the "eternal strength of the German people" and calls for unity "under the sign of the black sun", the AFP news agency reports.

The pacifist message says: "I wish future generations will never again make it necessary for our people to erect monuments to soldiers who fell in violent conflicts between nations."

Historian Heidemarie Uhl said the conflicting messages were evidence of the Austrian people's ambivalent political views in the 1930s.

More on this story