Passengers on an express train to Vienna on Sunday night were surprised and upset when instead of the usual overhead announcements, a scratchy recording of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi choruses of “Heil Hitler” and “Sieg Heil” played over the train’s public address system was played. in 20 minutes.
The train’s drivers were powerless to stop the transmission or even use the loudspeaker system to communicate with passengers.
The strange episode has sparked outrage, embarrassment and headaches in Austria, where Hitler was born. Has the train been hacked? Was it the fault of the national railway employees? And why couldn’t anyone stop it?
On Tuesday, the mystery seems largely solved. Using a specialized key that gives access to the microphone of the train’s PA system, a passenger accessed the system and simply held a telephone, which was broadcasting the recording, against the system’s microphone, according to the National Rail service, Ö.BB. Because the system was designed for emergency broadcasting, it could not be overridden.
State railroad investigators used video feeds to identify two men they believe are responsible. The police planned to question the suspects “as soon as possible”, according to Johann Baumschlager, a spokesman for the regional police. The suspects are not railway employees and their motive is unclear. Although spreading Nazi propaganda is a criminal offense in Austria, no charges have yet been filed.
Rabbi Schlomo Hofmeister, the rabbi of the Viennese community, who happened to be on the train when the recording blared from the loudspeaker, called it “disturbing”, especially when the initial reaction of some of his fellow passengers was laughter.
“Some Nazi ‘rogues’ apparently hacked into the train’s speaker system,” he wrote in a statement. tweet. They were “quite undisturbed and uninhibited” for about 20 minutes, he wrote, recounting his experience.
The recording, which was unusually loud, started at the end of the trip, just outside Vienna, sometime after 9 p.m., according to witnesses. Before the Nazi shootings, official sounding fire alarm announcements were broadcast.
David Stögmüller, a Green Party MP, was on board and managed to capture a short portion of the recording. In a tweet he posted from the train, he said he hoped the case would resolved and the guilty brought to justice soon.
The men believed responsible had carried out a less sinister version of the takeover on two other trains last week, an ÖBB spokesman said. However, instead of Hitler’s speeches, they played children’s songs. They also played an audio blooper reel by Chris Lohner, who has been the official voice of Austrian train announcements, mispronounced station names and instructions for decades.
Like recordings of Hitler, the blooper recording is readily available online.
Addressing the national rail service over Twitterasked Colette Schmidt, a journalist from the newspaper Der Standard, on Sunday evening: “Apart from the fact that I and other Austrians were completely shocked: what does a guest from abroad think when Hitler speeches are played through loudspeakers in our trains? ”