King and Country shop angers with Nazi figurines

French expatriates outraged at Pacific Place shop selling merchandise including a Hitler figurine, but owner says it's about history

PUBLISHED : Monday, 29 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 29 October, 2012, 5:34am

A shop selling military memorabilia in Admiralty has come under fire after passers-by noticed some of its items included Nazi insignia, but the owner insists he's promoting history, not Nazism.

King and Country, in Pacific Place mall, sells toy soldiers and other historical miniatures including Egyptian pharaohs, figurines from the American Revolution, both world wars, the conflicts in Afghanistan and even the streets of old Hong Kong. But its Nazi-themed merchandise, which includes an Adolf Hitler figurine saluting a military parade with the Nazi swastika behind him, has raised eyebrows.

A French expatriate recently asked the South China Morning Post to investigate why the shop is selling "Nazi memorabilia", calling it "a disgrace for Hong Kong and its people".

One shopper in the mall, Nora Bruno, 35, who also happened to be French, said it would be better for the shop to show interested customers a catalogue instead of openly displaying Nazi items because of the distress these many cause.

"The ideology behind Nazism is terrible … In France it is prohibited to show the Nazi symbol," she said.

"We all know the background well, but maybe people here are not so familiar with that part of history," Bruno added, referring to her country's occupation by Nazi-led Germany during the second world war.

Andy Neilson, owner of the shop and designer of the miniatures, said he was only promoting authentic history and depicting it in three dimensions, not promoting Nazism. "We are showing battle scenes, but not the killing of civilians," said the 63-year-old Scot. "Wars happen without toy soldiers … We are covering all aspects of history, and the Nazis are just a part of world war two."

Neilson said his products were "highly detailed models for adult collectors", not for children. Booklets explaining the background of the historical figures are available in the shop.

Store manager Dely Ong said a few visitors every year - mostly Westerners - express surprise or anger about the Nazi figurines.

The average price of one figurine is about HK$200, while some aircraft models - among the most expensive items in the shop - cost more than HK$10,000.