On Sunday, Austrian passengers on an intercity train heading towards Vienna were shocked when their routine announcements were swapped with soundbites from Hitler speeches. According to those on board the ÖBB Railjet 661, there were 30 seconds of a Hitler speech and another soundbite that played a chorus of ‘Sieg Hail,’ a rallying cry for supporters of the Nazi regime throughout their reign. Witnesses to the event say that many on board were visibly upset, and one passenger was even a survivor of Nazi Germany’s concentration camps. The Austrian rail system has announced that two suspects for the incident are being investigated for the horrific reminder of a history many would prefer was forgotten.
By Bethany Bell; May 15, 2023
Travellers on an intercity train in Austria were startled on Sunday when a recording of an Adolf Hitler speech was played on board.
Instead of the normal announcements, a crowd could also be heard shouting “Heil Hitler” and “Sieg Heil” over the train’s speaker system.
The operator said there had been several such incidents in recent days.
One passenger on the Bregenz-Vienna service told the BBC that everyone on the train was “completely shocked”.
David Stoegmueller, a Green Party MP, said the speech by the Nazi German leader was played over the intercom shortly before the train, an ÖBB Railjet 661, arrived in Vienna.
“We heard two episodes,” he said. “First there was 30 seconds of a Hitler speech, and then I heard ‘Sieg Heil’.”
Mr Stoegmueller said the train staff were unable to stop the recording and were unable to make their own announcements. “One crew member was really upset,” he added.
In a statement sent to the BBC, Austrian Federal Railways (ÖBB) said: “We clearly distance ourselves from the content.
“We can currently assume that the announcements were made by people directly on the train via intercoms. We have reported the matter to the police,” the ÖBB said.
It is understood that complaints have been filed against two people.
Mr Stoegmueller said he had received an email from a man who was on the train with an old lady who was a concentration camp survivor. “She was crying,” he said.
He said another passenger remarked that when other countries had technical problems, it involved the air conditioning breaking down.
“In Austria, the technical problem is Hitler.”
Hitler was born in Austria and emigrated to Germany in 1913 as a young man.