Wed, Jan 17, 2001 - Page 8 News List

Fascination with Nazis is shameful for Taiwan

By Huang Jui-ming 黃瑞明

The craze among Taiwanese teenagers for Nazi culture has recently become a topic of local media discussion. The swastika has become the hottest fashion ornament and tattoo design. Nazi souvenirs are available for sale here, although they cannot be auctioned from the Yahoo Web site. An evil criminal organization is actually being worshipped by our youngsters. Regretfully, the numbers of those fascinated with Nazis is not small.

About a year ago, a Newsweek reporter, Andrew Nagorski, wrote an article, in which he commented on some observations he had made while stationed in Berlin. He noticed that World War II continued to overshadow Germany. One of the reasons is that non-Germans associate Germany with the Auschwitz concentration camp. He used a Taiwan company licensed to sell German-made electronic appliances as an example. The company used a smiling Hitler to advertise the products. The spokesperson proudly said, "We decided to use Hitler as the main character, because everyone who sees him immediately thinks of Germany."

The fondness for Hitler does not stop here. A Taiwanese subsidiary of a printer manufacturer also used in its advertisement an old photo of both Adolf Hitler and head of the Nazi Brown Shirts, Ernst Roehm, whom Hitler later had killed. The ad showed how users of the company's photocopiers could create realistic looking pictures in which their heads were attached to Roehm's short, stubby body. They did this by simply cutting and pasting together their own mug shots and the picture of Roehm, and then making photocopies.

A few years ago, an ICRT host commented during his show about the emergence of this strange fascination for Nazi culture in Taiwan. The director of the German Cultural Center in Taiwan, Heidegert A. Hoesch said in disbelief that, "Taiwanese seem to hold some unfounded admiration for everything German, even the most despicable aspect of German history."

What Taiwanese consider to be cool is exactly what Germany considers to be a disgrace. Hitler is a source of agony for the Germans. That is why, when film footage of Hitler and his feverish fans was used in a commercial for Taiwanese instant noodles, I heard a young German woman angrily ask, "How would you guys feel if we used the 228 Incident as part of an ad for German pig's feet."

A butcher has been turned into a spokesperson. To the German, this is a serious issue. As Nagorski said, Germans are probably the group most capable of reflecting about past wrongs. Although modern-day Nazis continue to engage in hate crimes, most Germans loath the evils conducted by Hitler. His book Mein Kampf remains banned in Germany, where the use of Nazi symbols and the Hitler salute are punishable crimes. Not long ago, a German magazine even picked Hitler as the number one villain of the 20th century. No wonder when a German TV station used the question of whether it was acceptable to make Hitler jokes as a topic of discussion, the conclusion reached was an absolute no.

The Nazi craze in Taiwan has not only insulted German residents of Taiwan, but has also turned Taiwan into a laughing stock. Advertising agencies cannot continue to use evil as a gimmick and teenagers should not turn ignorance into a trend. The blind worship of Nazis is more than just bad taste, but involves issues of ethics and conscience. Since we long to join the global village, we must learn to face the history of others with a serious attitude. Hitler brought shame to the German people, and was a public enemy of all mankind. Taiwanese should join those who despise him.

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