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Authorities unable to remove pre-war gravestone with swastika
Annexation by Germany in 1938 enabled Austrians to claim after the war that they were Hitler's first victims.
Austria has moved since to acknowledge that it was instead a perpetrator.
It has paid out millions of dollars in reparations, restored property to Jewish heirs and misses no public opportunity to ask for forgiveness for its wartime role.
At the same time, some Austrians cling to the view that they bear less Holocaust responsibility than the Germans, if any at all.
And some comments by Graz city and church representatives responsible for managing the dispute suggest they see nothing wrong with graveyard Nazi displays.
Austria enacted a law in 1947 banning Nazi symbols that led to the purging of such emblems from Austrian graveyards.
A Vienna cemeteries spokesman has said he believes none of the 500-thousand gravestones in the Austrian capital now has such symbols, and that if any were found they would be removed.
But Christian Leibnitz, the Catholic church provost in Graz, said his hands are tied.
"As a matter of principle, I'm not happy about this grave," he told the Associated Press this week.
"But, as provost, my hands are tied because there are no legal measures to force the owner to remove the grave."
Graz's top prosecutor has ruled that the law prohibiting Nazi displays did not apply to that headstone because it was put up before the law was passed in 1947.
Under that interpretation, Graz officials say it's up to the grave's owner - a German man they refuse to identify - to voluntarily remove the emblem.
But that's something they say he refuses to do.
Law professor Martin Pollaschek says the answer might be a civil law separate from the 1947 criminal law.
He says the civil law - which bans displays of Nazi symbols except in rare cases such as in research material - could force the owner to cover up the swastika or have it removed without
"The insignia law is an administrative criminal law stating that National Socialist (Nazi) symbols must not be used except in connection with art or science," Pollaschek explained.
"In other words, the swastika on this gravestone would fall under the insignia law and measures could be taken."
Leibnitz said he recently heard of the civil law but does not think it applies, although he would not say why.
Pollaschek said he first mentioned the alternate to the 1947 law in Austrian news media 10 years ago and now plans to press charges under the civil law.
Meanwhile, the swastika remains - to the aggravation of its critics, including Austria's Jewish community.
Raimund Fastenbauer, who speaks for Vienna's Jews, said the problem is not with Austria's anti-Nazi laws but a reluctance to enforce them.
"This is disappointing and frustrating," he said.
"Austria has, compared to other European countries, good laws regarding National Socialist activities," he explained.
Graz residents appear to have mixed views on the gravestone inscriptions.