1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Bavarian premier demands answers over antisemitism scandal

August 29, 2023

Bavarian deputy premier Hubert Aiwanger has been accused of authoring an antisemitic leaflet in his school days. He has been called to answer further questions after a meeting with Bavarian Premier Markus Söder.

Bavarian Premier Markus Sóder (CSU) with deputy premier Hubert Aiwanger (Freie Wähler)
Bavarian Premier Markus Söder (right) of the CSU is asking for explanations from coalition partner Hubert Aiwanger (left) over an antisemitic leaflet circulated in the 1980sImage: Matthias Balk/dpa/picture alliance

Bavarian Premier Markus Söder called a special session of his coalition committee on Monday over allegations that Deputy Premier Hubert Aiwanger was responsible for an antisemitic flyer circulated when he was in high school.

Söder did not end up dismissing Aiwanger, asking him instead to answer 25 questions, he said on Tuesday following the special session.

The governing party in the southeastern German state of Bavaria is Söder's conservative Christian Social Union (CSU), while Aiwanger belongs to its junior coalition partner, the Free Voters.

The Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) reported on Saturday that Aiwanger had authored a leaflet circulated in the 1980s that made mocking references to the Holocaust.

Aiwanger denied the allegations, and his elder brother Helmut later claimed to be the real author of the antisemitic text.

However, the deputy premier admitted that "one or a few copies" of the leaflet were found in his school bag.

Söder asks 25 questions, does not dismiss Aiwanger

Söder said that he had requested that Aiwanger provide written responses to 25 questions after meeting with him on Monday.

He also said that it would be "excessive" to dismiss his deputy at this stage.

Aiwanger had agreed to respond to the queries, according to the Bavarian premier.

Söder said that he could only evaluate the situation after receiving answers to the questions.

But the premier again stressed that: "There is no place for antisemitism in the Bavarian state government."

Olaf Scholz demands answers in Aiwanger scandal

"We have taken note of [Aiwanger's] statement. But many questions remain open," Bavarian state chancellery chief Florian Hermann, who belongs to the CSU, said. "Only Hubert Aiwanger himself can answer them."

"We're expecting this to happen soon. The allegations are too serious for a deputy premier to only comment in written form and leave crucial questions unanswered," he stressed, adding that Aiwanger will need to respond "personally and comprehensively."

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz also demanded clarification. "Regardless of who wrote and distributed this leaflet: It really is a terrible, inhuman piece of work," said deputy government spokesman Wolfgang Büchner. "From the chancellor's point of view, all this must also be cleared up comprehensively and immediately and would then have to have political consequences if necessary."

Aiwanger said that he found the contents of the leaflet "disgusting and inhumane" in a written statement on Saturday evening.

"This is about Bavaria's reputation," Hermann said.

Bavaria is set to hold state elections in October of this year. The vice president of the state parliament, Karl Freller, called for Aiwanger to provide a "complete explanation" before the election, according to public broadcaster Deutschlandfunk.

sdi/ab (dpa, Reuters)

While you're here: Every Tuesday, DW editors round up what is happening in German politics and society. You can sign up here for the weekly email newsletter Berlin Briefing.