The Haider Diaries: A Right-Wing Populist, Two Dictators and Millions of Euros
Far from Sober
Not surprisingly, the debate has been far from sober thus far. Haider devotees claim the accusations amount to a pack of lies with little substance. The media coverage is not unlike the aggressive anti-Semitism of the Nazi mouthpiece Der Stürmer, says Gerald Grosz, a regional leader of the Alliance for Austria’s Future, the right-leaning party founded by Haider.
The only clue to a possible link between Haider and the two dictators is a mysterious diary kept by the former Haider confidant and lobbyist Walter Meischberger. The journal was confiscated from his villa in Vienna by investigators looking into the Buwog case. Meischberger had turned himself in — he is suspected of having misappropriated some €10 million as part of the Buwog privatization.
The diary, parts of which SPIEGEL ONLINE has seen — and which was partially published in the Viennese magazine Falter this week — includes entries from Haider’s private trips to Iraq. Those entries discuss accounts belonging to Saddam Hussein and his sons, accounts which were to be administered by Haider loyalists.
As bizarre as the stories may seem, they cannot be discarded out of hand. Haider’s close ties with Iraq were well known. He was one of very few Western politicians to travel to Iraq when it was still under Saddam’s control, a trip he made three times. In 2003, he wrote a book about his meetings with the Iraqi dictator.