No Swastikas Please, We’re German.
08/06/2011 2 Comments
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that Germans do not have a sense of humour. [This of course is not true.] The British in particular like to think of themselves as being infinitely superior to the Germans in almost any area of endeavour simply on the basis of their own proven capacity for extracting humour from any occasion.
Swastikas and humour rarely feature in the same sentence in German. The historical baggage associated with this ancient Hindu/Buddhist symbol remaining a bitter and painful memory for Germany and the Germans, even 60 years after the defeat of Nazi Germany. No such inhibitions or legal prohibitions exist in the UK, USA or Asian countries like India and Sri Lanka where the Swastika is used for its original religious, cultural and architectural meaning.
Dressing up in fancy dress Nazi uniforms was in the UK, until recently, considered to be quite a normal thing to do. Even Prince Harry thought it a harmless, fun, outfit. As part of the post-war De-Nazification of German society, the victorious Allies ensured that all Nazi symbology, and especially the Swastika would be banished from public display. The modern German state enacted strict legislation defining the circumstances under which Swastikas could be displayed, which is not at all. Ever. Anywhere.
Die politische Verwendung hakenkreuzförmiger Symbole ist in Deutschland, Österreich und weiteren Staaten seit 1945 verboten. Erlaubt ist in Deutschland eine Hakenkreuzdarstellung nach § 86 Absatz 3 StGB nur, wenn sie „der staatsbürgerlichen Aufklärung, der Abwehr verfassungswidriger Bestrebungen, der Kunst oder der Wissenschaft, der Forschung oder der Lehre, der Berichterstattung über Vorgänge des Zeitgeschehens oder der Geschichte oder ähnlichen Zwecken dient“.
This roughly translates as the total ban on use of display of Swastika type symbols for any political purposes whatsoever and may only be used for educational/scientific research purposes with permission.
A list of approved and banned symbols including the banned Waffen SS lightning flashes is very broad. A Swastika being smashed or placed in a wastebin is permitted. This law has created an (almost) insurmountable challenge for the historical scale model aircraft industry. To comply with German laws (and Austria and some other European countries with similar laws against open displays of Swastikas), they now release plastic models of WWII German military aircraft without the distinctive Swastika symbol on the tail. Whilst this compiles with German laws, it does make the model aircraft look slightly ridiculous.
Even restored (and re-manufactured) WW2-era fighters flying in Germany are forbidden from displaying the Swastika on their tails. Now, in a cunning display of resourcefulness and proving once and for all that Germans do have a sense of humour, some retailers are circumventing the ban on Swastikas on scale model aircraft.
In this German toy shop (whose location has been kept secret), they’ve used ingenious in-house modifications to maintain their models’ historical accuracy. A tail-fin cover (“Kielflosse Abdeckung”?) and a removable white sticky label help prevent the offending symbol from being visible on public display.
Typisch Deutscher Humor, Ja?