Austrian city plans exhibit on late leader Haider

Fri Jul 17, 2009 7:08am EDT
 
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By Sylvia Westall

VIENNA (Reuters Life!) - The home province of late far-right leader Joerg Haider will hold a major exhibition on his life spanning from his parents' Nazi past to his death in a crash last year, the museum behind the project said on Friday.

Haider, one of Austria's rare internationally recognized public figures, led the country's right into a coalition government from 2000-2006 and helped thrust anti-immigrant politics into the mainstream with blunt and polarizing rhetoric.

But the museum holding the exhibition, which opens in October in the Alpine city of Klagenfurt, said its aim was to reveal the man behind the public image.

"It will be about Haider the man, not the politician. It is a purely biographical presentation," Gerhard Finding, director of Klagenfurt's public mining museum, said.

Haider's folksy style and man-of-the-people image made him extremely popular in the Carinthia province where he was governor for over a decade.

His death last October shook Austria and his memorial service drew around 25,000 people.

The exhibition will include video interviews with family members and documents from his life and will be translated into English, Slovakian and Italian.

Haider, 58, was killed when his luxury car crashed outside Klagenfurt at more than 140 kph (85 mph), twice the speed limit. His blood alcohol level was nearly four times the legal limit, according to a party official.

(Reporting by Sylvia Westall, editing by Paul Casciato)