After a small German town failed to clean illegal swastika graffiti, a local resident decided to take action, but found himself fined for vandalism after painting the symbols out.
Part 86a of the German criminal code outlaws the use of “symbols of unconstitutional organisations”, prohibiting the display of the Swastika and other symbols of the Third Reich in Germany. Concerned about the appearance of forbidden graffiti near his school, teacher and ‘anti-Fascist’ Ralf Bender complained to the local Limburg town council, hoping it would be cleaned.
By Spring 2013 the graffiti — which was well within sight of children going to a local school — had not been cleaned by the council and Mr. Bender decided to take action. Now he has been hit with a €1,000 fine for covering up the symbols with paint. The same council that failed to clean the illegal symbols was now charging Mr. Bender for the whole clean up operation, reports TheLocal.de.
Furious at being lumbered with the costs, Mr. Bender took the town fine to his state court — which upheld the decision this week. The Hesse court stated if he had covered the swastikas with stickers instead, he would have been spared the fine — a stipulation he has called a “joke”.
Not detterred, he has vowed to take his case all the way to the top to the Federal court, and refuses to pay for what he considers a public service rendered. Paying a penny to his town, he claims would be “an admission of guilt. And I am not guilty — I was just trying to fend off a great injustice”, he told the Süddeutsche Zeitung.
The town of Limburg’s laid-back attitude towards Nazi iconography appears to be spreading in Germany.
Zeit Online reports today about the extraordinary case of a man with his son at a German water park, who stripped down to reveal a body of Nazi-inspired tattoos, including a sunwheel and a detailed depiction of a concentration camp across his lower back.
Despite the clear legal problems with his body art in Germany, nobody seemed to mind — except for a Berlin-based journalist who took pictures of the man and started asking his fellow bathers whether they were offended.
Complaining to a member of staff and attempting to have the man ejected, the journalist remarked “worst of all, I found that no other bather had taken offense at the anti-Semitic Tattoo”.
He later succeeded in having the man thrown out of the water park and reported him to the police. State prosecutors are now deciding whether to press charges.
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