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Simon Wiesenthal Center Demands Governor's Resignation for Honoring Nazi

The Simon Wiesenthal Center demanded the immediate resignation of the governor of Austria's Tyrol province and other local politicians Thursday for throwing a 90th birthday party for a former Gestapo operative.

The Los Angeles-based group expressed "anger and frustration" that Gov. Herwig von Staa and other politicians gathered to honor Ferdinand Obenfeldner, a former deputy mayor of Innsbruck suspected of having carried out atrocities against Jews in Innsbruck during "Kristallnacht" — the infamous "Night of Broken Glass" pogrom in 1938.

Efraim Zuroff, the center's chief Nazi hunter, said he was outraged "that individuals whose deeds during the Nazi period — who should be publicly repudiated — instead are honored by Austrian public figures who clearly should be acting differently."

Zuroff called on Von Staa to step down along with the mayor of Innsbruck, Hilde Zach, and several regional leaders of the Social Democratic Party who attended last month's party.

Von Staa was not immediately available for comment.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center recently has stepped up pressure on Austrian authorities to bring to justice aging World War II-era war crimes suspects before they die.