I wonder if these authorities have played "Mario and Sonic at the Olympics" and see what "Dr Eggman" (who comes complete with faux-german accent) does on the podium when he wins a gold medal!
Prosecutors in Nuremberg have decided not to take action against an artist who created a series of gnomes giving the Nazi salute, despite German laws which apparently prohibit even garden ornaments giving it a bit of the old Sieg Heil. Ottmar Hörl's Nazi gnomes. Pic: Werner Scheuermann Things got a bit sticky for Ottmar Hörl …
As someone of Jewish decent, I’m really quite disturbed by the German government’s apparent fear of any reference to the country’s past. I understand they may still have a problem with neo-Nazi groups and they feel that this is the way to control them, but I’m not so sure.
When a government bans public reference to something that’s been a major part of history, the natural human reaction is to ask, “What have they to hide”. I’m sure it’s laws like this that actually fuel the nutcase holocaust deniers etc.
It is a bit tricky for the German authorities; German law forbids the possession of Nazi artifacts, anything with Nazi symbols, etc. It is also illegal to make a Nazi salute or to deny the Holocaust. The legislation intends to prevent the promotion of fascist ideology.
It is therefore a bit tricky when someone suggests that their use of any of these things is artisitic and/or satirical - they have to decide if that is really the case or whether they are dealing with a closet Nazi. It is not a trivial issue - there has been a surge in popularity of the extreme right in eastern Germany where there has been high unemployment and a largely politically naive population.
The German artist would be well aware of the issues that his "work" would generate. I can't think of any Germans I know that would buy anything like this - I suspect the only purchasers would buy such things for the wrong reasons.
Anonymous: I live in Germany and don't fancy a visit from the NPD.
This forum is not the right place to get into deeper philosophical debates, but let me just say this: the fundamental concept of freedom includes that freedom is limited where it violates the rights of others. Therefore a society may well choose to forbid actions when the sole intent of such actions is such violations. If you want to live in a libertarian society, move to Somalia.
On the contrary, it is my experience that much of Europe is getting a lot of things better than your average Sun-reading Brit, who's brainwashed into thinking Europe==bad and always ends up barking up the wrong tree, viz. the ID card debate: as if it mattered whether you had to carry a piece of plastic when there are all sorts of databases (eg., council tax, income tax, phone, passports, credit cards, shop cards) that contain your data which may be connected and trawled by the government or police at their leisure (s.28 of the DPA: I don't think such blanket exemptions exist on "the continent").
The old monster has been dead for more than 60 years. There is not the slightest danger of Nazism, and hasn't been for all that time.
So the German government should butt out of deciding what people are allowed to say.
If people want to dress up in jackboots, or high heels, or whatever, let them. The little chap with only one ball is dead, chaps.
Am I allowed to say that?
Well, even in satire this has repercussions. I'm a fan of free speech and all that so the issue is tricky. The problem if you ban almost every mention of something, but allow one thing through in Jest, then the Joke becomes the symbol your trying to suppress. In nazi germany he would have been a political prisoner, but now what is stopping private neo nazi supporters for displaying this in their yard for all to see. Through history many groups have taken racial and derogatory slurs as offical identifiers of their people while under oppression.
A ban like this needs to be absolute or nothing at all.
@Indianna Jones - The swastikas are generally removed from comics/toys/computer games but not the movies.
They do get rather 'Germanic' about the rules - although it's actually an allied occupation law.
Even postage stamps in collections or railway tickets/timetables from that era have little black circles over the swastika when displayed in museums, and the tails markings of German aircraft are normally painted out.
Just think for a moment if Nazi Gnome (TM) had been in the garden of some English type person, annexing the begonia's, in our leafy suburbs
The PCSO would have a) Demanded their papers, b) Had them shot.
At least Deutsche Plod, recognised that on balance taking the piss is not the same as promoting, even if the local governments attitude to free speech isn't that different in certain respects to what was enforced in 1939
You should have said 'As an ignorant person of Jewish decent...'.
[West] Germany has, since not very long after the end of WWII, taught the truth in it's schools about what the Nazis did, about 6 million murdered Jews, and the other forgotten 6 million: mixed communists, gays, Roma, persons with disabilities, others.
What Germany also did was ban the Nazi party, and it's iconography. The salute is a bit of Nazi iconography, yes?
I recommend you pick up some books and read the history of West Germany from the period 1945 to, say, unification with East Germany. Then you will be less ignorant.
Please keep in mind that this is a relic of the post-war Germany mindset; the Stazi were pretty keen in stomping out as much as possible the "embarrassing" spectacle of Germany's recent history, in order to satisfy their then-current Allied watchers. (Including Russia--to be honest, I never liked the Wall that much, it caused a lot of internal problems long after West Germany got its act together.)
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