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Two Chinese tourists arrested after making Nazi salutes in Germany

Men to face criminal probe for using symbols linked to organisations that are in breach of Germany’s constitution

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 06 August, 2017, 10:31am
UPDATED : Sunday, 06 August, 2017, 11:33pm

Police in Germany have arrested two Chinese tourists for making illegal “Heil Hitler” salutes in front of the historic Reichstag building that houses the German parliament.

Berlin police officers said they detained two men, aged 36 and 49, after they were seen striking the Nazi-era pose and photographing each other with their mobile phones.

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They face charges for “using symbols of illegal organisations”, the police said in a statement, and were released after posting bail of 500 euros (US$590) each.

Germany has strict laws on hate speech and symbols linked to Hitler and the Nazis, who ruled between 1933 and 1945.

The Reichstag is a powerful symbol in Germany. It was destroyed by fire in 1933 by an arsonist thought to have been paid by the Nazis, who then blamed the blaze on the Communists and used it as an excuse to severely restrict civil liberties.

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News of the arrests soon began to circulate through China’s online community, where a large majority of people said the men deserved their punishments.

“It’s like holding a [wartime] flag of the Japanese army in front of Tiananmen Square. Go to jail,” a person wrote on the Sina news portal, making reference to Japan’s invasion of China during the second world war.

In a similar vein, some people said they were impressed by the reaction of the German police as it showed that modern Germany did not want to be associated with its Nazi past. In contrast, Japan has never apologised for its wartime atrocities, some people wrote.

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Other commentators said they were not offended by the men’s salutes as they were unaware of the links to Hitler or the Nazis.

Several others took a more ­resigned view, saying the incident was just an example of ­Chinese tourists behaving badly overseas. “The fact that most Chinese citizens are poorly behaved has made the Chinese unwelcome in some parts of the world,” a user surnamed Zhang said on Weibo.

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About 122 million Chinese people travelled abroad last year, making them the world’s biggest spenders on overseas travel.

Additional reporting by Mandy Zuo