A week after allegations about an anti-Semitic leaflet from school days became known, Bavaria's Deputy Prime Minister Hubert Aiwanger answered questions in writing. According to dpa information, Aiwanger's answers were transmitted in Munich on Friday evening. The State Chancellery confirmed receipt. These would now be evaluated "in peace", it said from CSU circles.
It is now Bavaria's Prime Minister Markus Söder (CSU)'s turn. He must decide whether to dismiss Aiwanger a month before the state elections on October 8th. Nothing is known about the content of the answers. The questions that the state chancellery had sent to the head of the Free Voters were not published either. The opposition FDP in the state parliament is calling for this to change quickly.
"Bavarian citizens must be able to see for themselves what their deputy prime minister has to say about the public allegations against him," said the chairman of the FDP parliamentary group, Martin Hagen.
It should not be an exclusive exchange of letters between the CSU and free voters. "Transparency is very important here so that trust in the state government is not damaged in the long term. That's why I expect Prime Minister Söder to make the questions and answers publicly available in a timely manner."
It is not yet clear when Söder will announce a decision on Aiwanger. Both Söder and Aiwanger want to attend longer public appointments today.
On Friday morning, the Prime Minister had increased the time pressure on Aiwanger to quickly answer Tuesday's catalog of questions. "For me it is important that the 25 questions are now answered comprehensively and credibly, and promptly. And promptly means today, during the day," said Söder on the sidelines of an appointment without setting a formal deadline.
Aiwanger defended himself again on Friday at a public festival in Lower Bavaria. "Yes, I did shit too when I was young. Yes, I did crap too." But he doesn't think it's okay to confront someone later in life with things that happened 35 to 40 years ago, "up to the point of their professional annihilation." There are many things that one would no longer do in hindsight. But you also have to allow people to become smarter in life. He spoke again of a long-planned smear campaign against him, "perhaps to bring the Greens into the state government."
Aiwanger had already denied in writing on Saturday that he had written the anti-Semitic leaflet that the "Süddeutsche Zeitung" reported on in its edition last weekend when he was at school. At the same time, however, he admitted that "one or a few copies" were found in his school bag. Shortly thereafter, Aiwanger's older brother said he wrote the pamphlet.
The President of the Central Council of Jews, Josef Schuster, criticized Aiwanger on Friday evening in the ZDF "Heute Journal" for his handling of the affair. Referring to Aiwanger's public apology, Schuster said he found it problematic "that in the same breath with this apology the topic comes up again, that he sees the whole thing as a campaign against himself".
Schuster also sharply criticized Aiwanger's statement in the "Welt". The Free Voters boss had told the newspaper that in his eyes the Shoah, i.e. the genocide of European Jews during the Nazi era, was being misused for party political purposes. Schuster said: "I don't see it that way and what I hear from this sentence is what one understands from a victim-perpetrator reversal. So that now an attempt is made to turn the victims into perpetrators."
The problem is not the leaflet that is in the room, even if Aiwanger obviously grew up in a strange environment, said the President of the Central Council. "But the point is that I would have expected him to fully distance himself from it immediately. And it took quite a long time for him to come up with that apology last night."
Former SPD leader Sigmar Gabriel, on the other hand, backed Aiwanger. "Why should young neo-Nazis get out of the right-wing extremist scene when they see Hubert Aiwanger as an example, that 35 years later you are still publicly branded for the madness of your own youth?" Gabriel wrote on Friday on the online platform X, die previously known as Twitter. Then you could "save all the dropout programs."