Authorities release Nuremberg Nazi gnome
Aryan garden ornament deemed satirical
Prosecutors in Nuremberg have decided not to take action against an artist who created a series of gnomes giving the Nazi salute, despite German laws which apparently prohibit even garden ornaments giving it a bit of the old Sieg Heil.
Things got a bit sticky for Ottmar Hörl, 59, when one of his gnomes paraded in the window of an art gallery in the city. They'd previously held a massed rally of 700 in an exhibition in Ghent, Belgium, without incident.
Earlier this year, 300 of them invaded a two-month event in Aschaffenburg, near Frankfurt, which attracted not one murmur of public discontent.
However, when a gold example pitched up in Nuremberg's Weigl Gallery, an indignant local tipped off a newspaper, which published a snap of the figure, and prosecutors then moved in.
According to Time, Nuremberg prosecutors' spokesman Wolfgang Träg confirmed: "We're investigating whether this is a violation of German criminal law, which forbids the use of symbols from unconstitutional organizations."
Hörl defended that the gnomes were intended as a satire on Nazism. He said of their Ghent outing: "They were part of an exhibition against the far right. Nobody had a problem with them."
He noted: "I would probably have been killed by the Nazis if I'd dared to depict the Aryan 'super race' as gnomes in 1942."
Heinz Bartkowski, the curator of the art society which organised the Aschaffenburg gig, said: "I think it's ridiculous the authorities in Nuremberg are investigating a common garden gnome. They should be investigating the activities of neo-Nazis instead, and not art. It's absolutely clear that works of art are exempt from the law forbidding the display of Nazi symbols."
Well, the powers that be have decided to let it slide, conceding that the gnomes are indeed mocking Adolf and chums and as such "could be allowed if they were clearly used to counter the fascist ideology", as the BBC puts it. They did, though, warn the figures had "certain abuse potential" and suggested others should not attempt to emulate the work. ®
Just for the anti-Nazi law pundits
Please keep in mind that this is a relic of the post-war Germany mindset; the Stazi were pretty keen in stomping out as much as possible the "embarrassing" spectacle of Germany's recent history, in order to satisfy their then-current Allied watchers. (Including Russia--to be honest, I never liked the Wall that much, it caused a lot of internal problems long after West Germany got its act together.)
@AC 09:39 GMT
You should have said 'As an ignorant person of Jewish decent...'.
[West] Germany has, since not very long after the end of WWII, taught the truth in it's schools about what the Nazis did, about 6 million murdered Jews, and the other forgotten 6 million: mixed communists, gays, Roma, persons with disabilities, others.
What Germany also did was ban the Nazi party, and it's iconography. The salute is a bit of Nazi iconography, yes?
I recommend you pick up some books and read the history of West Germany from the period 1945 to, say, unification with East Germany. Then you will be less ignorant.
"abuse potential" ?
QUICK, GET THE SHOTGUN! SOMEONE IS MOLESTING THE GNOME!
Paris likes abuse..