Passengers on an express train bound for Vienna on Sunday evening were surprised and shocked when instead of the usual announcements, a raucous recording of Adolf Hitler and Nazi refrains of ‘Heil Hitler’ and ‘Sieg Heil’ played on the train’s public address system for approximately 20 minutes.
Train engineers were powerless to stop the broadcast or even use the speaker system to communicate with passengers.
The bizarre episode caused outrage, embarrassment and head-scratching in Austria, where Hitler was born. Was the train hacked? Were national railway staff to blame? And why couldn’t anyone stop him?
On Tuesday, the mystery seems largely solved. Using a specialized key that unlocks access to the train’s public address system microphone, a passenger gained access to the system and simply held his phone, which turned off the recording, up to the system’s microphone, according to the National Rail Service. , Ö.BB Since the system is designed for emergency broadcasts, it cannot be overridden.
National Rail Investigators have used video feeds to identify two men they believe to be responsible. The police planned to question the suspects “as soon as possible”, according to Johann Baumschlager, spokesman for the regional police. The suspects are not railway workers and their motivation is unclear. Although spreading Nazi propaganda is a criminal offense in Austria, no charges have yet been brought.
Rabbi Schlomo Hofmeister, the Vienna community rabbi, who was on the train when the recording was played over the loudspeaker, called it “disturbing”, especially when the first reaction of some of his fellow travelers was laughter.
“Some Nazi ‘rogues’ apparently hacked into the train’s speaker system,” he wrote in a Tweeter. They were “completely quiet and uninhibited” for about 20 minutes, he wrote, recounting his experience.
The unusually loud recording began at the end of the trip, just outside Vienna sometime after 9 p.m., witnesses said. Prior to Nazi tapings, official-sounding fire alarm announcements were played.
David Stögmüller, a Green Party parliamentarian, was on board and managed to capture a short section of the recording. In a tweet he posted from the train, he said he hoped the case would be be solved and the culprits charged soon.
The men allegedly responsible had carried out a less sinister version of the takeover on two other trains last week, an ÖBB spokesman said. Instead of Hitler’s speeches, however, they played children’s songs. They also played an audio blooper reel from Chris Lohner, who for decades has been the official voice of Austrian train announcements, erroneous station names and instructions.
Like the Hitler recordings, the blooper recording is readily available online.
Addressing the National Rail Service on TwitterColette Schmidt, a journalist with the newspaper Der Standard, asked on Sunday evening: “Regardless of the fact that I and other Austrians were completely shocked: what does a guest from abroad think when Hitler’s speeches are broadcast over loudspeakers? in our trains? ”