What comes to mind when you say Austria these days? Whether you like it or not, it is hard to forget that the country has had two high-profile abuse cases in a very short time and they have shared some bizarre details.
When the first one hit the newsstands and the world found out about Natascha Kampusch, an Austrian girl who got abducted and and remained in basement custody of her kidnapper for more than eight years, people thought it was a fluke. Every country has its weirdos.
The recent abuse case, however, in which a 73-year-old man held his daughter hostage for over 24 years (also in a basement) and had seven children with her, made people ask themselves: Is there something very wrong with Austria, the country that gave birth to Hitler?
It is not going to be an easy PR campaign for Austria to win. Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer said today that he is prepared to defend Austria’s image: “We’re not going to allow Austria and its entire population to be held hostage by a single, barbarous criminal individual.”
Based on Austria’s recent history, I wouldn’t underestimate the power of a single, barbarous criminal individual. But that’s just me.