Two Chinese tourists were caught unaware, and wittingly or unwittingly, disrespectful of laws in Germany, when they were arrested by Berlin police for making Hitler salutes in front of the house of the parliaments, the Reichstag building.
The two Chinese men, aged 36 and 49, were caught posing for photos while making the infamous Nazi-era salutes. They took turns taking each other’s photos on their mobile phones. Making the Hitler salute is considered a criminal offense in Germany, Slovakia and Austria.
The Chinese tourists were later released on bail of 500€ each. They will still face charges for “using symbols of illegal organizations” and could be sentenced to three years in jail.
A police spokesperson admitted that the tourists were already allowed to leave Germany during the probe into their illegal actions. The bail money they posted would already cover whatever fines will be meted out. It is not clear, however, what will happen to their sentence, should they be found to be guilty of the criminal offense.
The Reichstag building is historical as the place where the Third Reich met from 1933-1945 and it also served as the location for many of Hitler’s speeches. It was also here where Hitler declared war against the United States in 1941.
Symbols and imagery of Nazis are banned in Germany, the only exemption being if the materials are used for educational or historical research. They can also be used in documentaries and films that satirize the Nazi regime.
There have been many instances in the past where the same charges that the Chinese tourists are facing, were also used to prosecute members of the far right. Germany’s military counter-intelligence unit is also probing allegations of far right extremists in the armed forces.
It is advisable for tourists to research the legal do’s and don’ts in particular countries they are visiting before their travel to avoid committing similar offenses as the Chinese tourists.