The Ulrichsberg is a mountain outside of Klagenfurt. It is the location of commemoration sites, mainly for Wehrmacht and SS soldiers and units. These sites consist of a 20m high cross erected in 1958 and a shrine of honour, located in a 15th century church. This shrine of honour consists of 50 plates honouring various Wehrmacht and SS units and commanders, such as a plate by the 15th Cosack-Cavalerie-Corps (which was part of the SS) honouring General von Pannwitz who was sentenced to death in Moscow after the war. Other units which committed massacres in the war are honoured as well, for example the First Alpine Division. Alongside these are plates honouring, for example, Austrian (UN-)Soldiers.
At least some of these plates (like those honouring the SS) are clearly against the law forbidding the glorification of national socialism or its organizations. Nevertheless they are still there.
The difference between this site and "normal" commemoration plates and monuments honouring dead Wehrmacht soldiers elsewhere in Austria and Germany is that it explicitly glorifies SS and Wehrmacht soldiers while others do this only implicitly.
The organizations forming the Ulrichsberggemeinschaft (Ulrichsberg memorial association) are principally Kärtner Heimatdienst, Kärtner Abwehrkämpferbund and the Kameradschaft IV (literally Comradeship, but the German word has a strong (german-)nationalist connotation.) The Kameradschaft IV is a SS-Veteransorganisation (the 4 refering to the Kamerdschaft IV definition of the SS as fourth part of the Wehrmacht), the presentation of SS-men as "normal" soldiers is a prominent theme in the Ulrichsberg-meeting.
The Ulrichsberg-meeting started as a veterans meeting in 1958, commemorating the (German) soldiers - and only the soldiers - who had died in the Second World War and in the so-called Abwehrkampf. Because the veterans gradually are dying out, the organizers saw the necessity to give the commemorations a wider focus and thus they tried to position it as a European peace-project alongside the ongoing commemorations of Wehrmacht and SS.
These aspects are also connected in the speeches given during the event. They present the SS as an organization that fought for a unified, peaceful Europe. The German aggression is reinterpreted as defense - in the German nationalist diction: Abwehrkampf - against Bolshevism.
Reconciliation between soldiers of the different sides - especially with soldiers of the western allies - is also a common topic, but reconciliation is explicitly refused with the partisans, who are denounced as criminals and/or terrorist. At the same time not a word is lost about the Shoah or the systematic war crimes committed by Wehrmacht and SS.
Apart from laying down flowers commemorating Wehrmacht and SS, the central event is a Festrede, a main speaker, usually a prominent (mostly) provincial politician. Politicians from all three major parties (Social Democrats, Conservatives and Freedom Party/BZÖ) have held a Festrede. Among them Jörg Haider (1990, 2000) as Governor of Carinthia, from the Conservatives Mayor of Klagenfurt Harald Scheucher, son of the founder of the Ulrichsberggemeinschaft Blasius Scheucher, who already was Deputy mayor of Klagenfurt, and former Social Democratic Deputy-Governor Rudolf Gallob (2002) in his role as president of the Ulrichsberg memorial association. Apart from these main speakers numerous provincial politicians of all major parties take part in the event.
In the last year(s) however attendance of the event has gone down, and it has become a slightly less mainstream - for the whole family - event. Politicians still attend the event but they tend to be less prominent, than they were a few years ago. There is also a trend towards of stronger attendance by Neo-Nazis, while the old Nazis are gradually dying out.
Additionally to the main event on Sunday on the mountain a so called "Europe-evening", organized by the Kameradschft IV, takes place on Saturday evening in Krumpendorf. Here the SS-veterans and younger Nazis, mainly stay among themselves. Apart from Austrian and German SS-veterans, like the Kameradschaft IV and the German HIAG - Hilfsgemeinschaft auf Gegenseitigkeit für ehemalige Angehörige der Waffen-SS (aid society for veterans of the armed SS) - veterans from the Belgian, the Danish and the Latvian SS also regularly take part at the Ulrichsberg as well as in Krumpendorf.
The Role of the Austrian Army
The Austrian Army also played a prominent role. They were present with a Guard of Honour, laid down flowers at the memorial and assisted the older participants with getting up the mountain. Additionally the Army still uses the former SS-barracks in Klagenfurt, a fresco of an SS-soldier in the mess remained there until 2007. The same year the ministry of defense managed to install a small plate commemorating the victims of the SS who were murdered in these barracks. Parts of the military personnel who took part in the ceremony to unveil this plate also took part in the Ulrichsberg-event.
For 2009 the participation of the Army was cancelled, which together with the conflict between Kärtner Heimatdienst and Kärtner Anwehrkämperbun led to the provisional cancellation of this year's meeting.
Internal conflicts and cancellation of this year’s Ulrichsberg-gathering
Due conflicts within the Ulrichsberggemeinschaft between Kärtner Heimatdienst and Kärntner Abwehrkämpferbund, its chairman selling national socialist stuff on the internet, its steering committee falling apart and the fact that the Austrian Army cancelled its participation for this year the Ulrichsberg-gathering was, at least provisionally, cancelled.