Two tourists in Berlin, Germany, landed in hot water after they were caught taking pictures in front of the Reichstag building, where the German parliament meets. The Chinese men, who remain unidentified, were reportedly posing with their arm raised high in Nazi salutes — a very grave offense in the country.
According to the authorities, the holidaymakers were giving Hitler salutes while taking pictures of each other on their mobile phones. It is unclear if they knew of the legal repercussions of their actions.
Germany has strict laws against using symbols and salutations linked to Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. In fact, giving the Hitler salute is a criminal offense not only in Germany but also in Slovakia and Austria along with several countries.
The law is mostly used to indict members of the far right.
“A probe on suspicion of using the symbols of anti-constitutional organizations was opened against the two Chinese men, aged 36 and 49,” a police representative told AFP.
The pair was released after posting a bail of 500 euros ($593). However, they will be charged with “using symbols of illegal organizations” and could be sentenced to three years in jail, according to the authorities.
As The New York Times reported, the Chinese tourists were allowed to leave Germany during the investigation and police said their bail money would cover the fine as well. It wasn’t clear if the men were still in Berlin or had left the country already.
This is not the first time a tourist has pulled such a move outside the German parliament, which hold powerful significance in German history, as it was its burning in 1933 that prompted Nazis to blame communists and exploit the incident to restrict freedoms of speech, press and assembly throughout the country.
In 2011, police arrested a Canadian tourist for giving the hateful salute while taking pictures outside the Reichstag. He spent several hours in police custody and had to pay a hefty fine.
Thumbnail/Banner: Reuters, Fabrizio Bensch