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German state official denies writing an antisemitic flyer when he was at school

BERLIN (AP) — The deputy governor of Germany's Bavaria state on Saturday rejected allegations that he was responsible for an antisemitic flyer as a high school student, claims that came weeks before a state election.

Hubert Aiwanger said in a statement that he didn't write the flyer and considers its contents “disgusting and inhuman.” He said he knows who created the handout and that the person would explain himself, adding it wasn't and isn't his style to “squeal on other people.”

The politician's brother later said that he was the author.

Daily German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported Friday that when Aiwanger was 17, he was suspected of writing a typed flyer calling for entries to a competition titled “Who is the biggest traitor to the fatherland?”

It listed, among other things, a “1st prize: a free flight through the chimney at Auschwitz.”

The newspaper said it spoke with several people, whom it didn’t identify, who said a school disciplinary committee had punished Aiwanger at the time.

In his statement, Aiwanger said that one or more copies of the flyer were found in his school bag and he was summoned to see the headteacher. He said he was threatened with police involvement if he didn't clear up the facts and had agreed under pressure to make a presentation.

Aiwanger did not specify what the presentation entailed. But that, he said, had been the end of the matter. He said he also distances himself “completely” from the leaflet 35 years later.

Aiwanger's elder brother later identified himself as the author, German news agency dpa reported. It quoted a statement in which the brother said he distances himself from the flyer's “unspeakable” contents and regrets its consequences, and said he was angry at the time because he had failed at school.

The statement followed similar comments by Helmut Aiwanger, 53, to the Mediengruppe Bayern newspaper group.

Hubert Aiwanger, now 52, leads the Free Voters, a party that is a conservative force in Bavaria but has no seats in Germany's national parliament. He has served as the state's deputy governor and economy minister since 2018, when his party became the junior partner in a regional government under Bavaria's long-dominant center-right Christian Social Union.

Bavaria has a state election scheduled for Oct. 8. Earlier Saturday, Bavarian governor and CSU leader Markus Soeder demanded that the allegations be “cleared up, and completely.”