Most Austrians spurn 1945 as liberation-Wiesenthal VIENNA, April 26 (Reuter) - Veteran Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal said on Wednesday most Austrian people were still unable to accept the end of World War Two as a liberation. Wiesenthal, 86, who was freed by U.S. troops from the Austrian concentration camp at Mauthausen on May 5, 1945, said the only people who used the word ``liberation' were those who were persecuted in Adolf Hitler's Third Reich. ``I have been waiting for 50 years for the word ``liberation' to be used in public,'' Wiesenthal told Austrian news agency APA in an interview. ``''Liberation' is a word that is only spoken by those who were persecuted or those who were made to suffer in concentration camps,'' he said. ``The majority (of Austrians) even today prefer to talk about ``an upheaval' or ``a lost war'.'' Wiesenthal, who has run dozens of fugitive Nazi war criminals to ground, made his comments as Austria prepared to open celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary of the end of the war and the setting up of the Second Austrian Republic. He said one of the reasons for a distorted view of the past was that Austrian political parties ``competed for the favours of members of the former National Socialist Party'' when the new republic was set up. He said some Austrians, such as former president Kurt Waldheim, maintained they were only doing their duty by fighting in Hitler's army. It should be spelt out that ``the duty of Austrian citizens was to be involved in the resistance after the Anschluss,'' Wiesenthal said, referring to March 1938 when Hitler absorbed Austria into the Third Reich. Hundreds were executed for taking part in a clandestine Austrian resistance movement. Waldheim, a former U.N. secretary-general, has been accused of concealing his wartime service with a German unit in the Balkans that is alleged to have committed war crimes. The U.S. Justice Department has put his name on a list of people to be refused entry into the United States because of their association with the Hitler regime. Wiesenthal has often criticised Austria for failing to bring Nazi suspects to justice. It is a crime in Austria to deny that six million Jews and others considered ethnically ``subhuman'' by the Third Reich were systematically gassed in Nazi death camps during World War Two.
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