A Taiwanese company has provoked an angry response because of an advertising campaign using large subway billboards featuring a cartoon figure of a smiling Adolf Hitler. The advertisements are for German-made electric space heaters.
Israeli and German culture and trade officials in Taipei said yesterday they were appalled by the ad.
The maker of the space heaters, DBK, based in the southwest German city of Kandel, said it would order an immediate halt to the campaign.
The ad shows Hitler in a khaki uniform and black jackboots, his right arm raised high in a Nazi salute. Above him is a slogan that says "Declare war on the cold front!"
There are no swastikas in the ad, but the Hitler figure wears a red arm band on his left arm with a white circle bearing the German manufacturer's name.
Shen Yu-shan (
"We decided to use Hitler because as soon as you see him, you think of Germany. It leaves a deep impression," said Shen, who works in the company's planning and design department.
Shen said the company had not been worried that the public would have a negative reaction to an ad that features a man who oversaw the killing of millions of Jews during World War II.
"Most people in Taiwan are not that sensitive about Hitler," she said.
Shen could not say whether the German firm had been informed about the contents of the ad.
"As always, we do our promotion planning independently and we report what we have done to DBK afterwards," she said in a press statement.
At DBK headquarters in Kandel, executive director Hans-Hermann Alfers said the company had first heard about the ad on Friday.
Alfers said the company's managers were not immediately sure who was behind the ad, but they will order an immediate stop to the campaign.
Uri Gutman of the Israel Economic and Cultural Office in Taipei said the advertisement was "unbelievable."
He feared using Hitler's image in such ads would make Nazi atrocities during World War II seem less real.
"It supports the denial of the Holocaust," said Gutman, referring to fringe theories that the Nazis did not kill Jews.
German officials in Taiwan also objected to the ad.
"We are not happy about this, this is not an appropriate way to make an advertisement," said Dr Hilmar Kaht, director general of the German Trade Office in Taipei , yesterday.
Kaht said while the intention of the ad is to tell consumers that the space heater is a German product, which he does not object to, he added that: "They should not use any political advertisement, especially not from Nazi times ... It creates a negative image of Germany and legitimizes the crimes of the Nazi regime by playing it down."
"Such an ad would be forbidden in Germany," Kaht said.
Patricia Kortmann of the German Cultural Center in Taipei was dismayed by the ad and doubted a German firm would approve it.
"It sounds too absurd to me that a German company would agree to such an advertising strategy," Kortmann said.
Johannes Goeth of the German Trade Office in Taipei also doubted that the manufacturer knew about the ad beforehand. He said the trade office faxed DBK a letter two weeks ago telling it about the ad but had yet to receive a reply.
Both Kortmann and Goeth said the advertisement didn't surprise them because they often encounter Taiwanese who admire Hitler and lack a deep understanding of European history.
"Taxi drivers will often tell me Hitler was a great man, very strong," Goeth said.
SURPRISE GUEST: Media reports identified the visitor as Admiral Michael Studeman, director of the J2, which oversees intelligence at the US military’s Indo-Pacific Command A two-star US Navy admiral overseeing US military intelligence in the Asia-Pacific region has made an unannounced visit to Taiwan, two sources told Reuters on Sunday. The sources, who include a Taiwanese official familiar with the situation, said the official was Rear Admiral Michael Studeman. They were speaking on condition of anonymity. After initially saying on Sunday night that it had no comment about the report, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it welcomed the visit of an “unidentified US official,” but declined to give more details because the trip “has not been made public.” Presidential Office spokesman Xavier Chang (張惇涵) yesterday
DEFENSE: The construction of indigenous submarines will be a testament to the nation’s commitment to safeguard its sovereignty, President Tsai Ing-wen said President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday presided over a ceremony to mark the start of construction of the nation’s first indigenous submarine at state-run shipbuilder CSBC Corp’s (台灣國際造船) shipyard in Kaohsiung. “This submarine is an important part of allowing our navy to develop asymmetric warfare and to intimidate and block enemy ships from surrounding Taiwan’s main island,” Tsai said. “With the construction of the submarine to its future commission, we will certainly let the world know our persistence in safeguarding our sovereignty.” Tsai has made boosting the nation’s indigenous defense capacity a central pillar of her defense policy. She recently relaunched the
ESPIONAGE CHARGE: A TAO spokesperson said that the rights of Shih Cheng-ping were ‘fully safeguarded’ during the hearing, which handed him four years in prison China sentenced Shih Cheng-ping (施正屏), a former National Taiwan Normal University (NTNU) professor, to four years in jail for espionage, officials said yesterday. The ruling came a month after Shih made a televised “confession” on state media. Shih, who is also a former chief economist for Chinese conglomerate Huaxia Group (華夏集團), was found guilty by a Chinese court on Tuesday, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) told a news briefing. Shih — who vanished after traveling to China in August 2018 — was among Taiwanese who China Central Television (CCTV) last month showed confessing to spying. CCTV often broadcasts suspects admitting to crimes, even
TIMELINE QUESTIONS: Chen Shih-chung said: ‘If anyone could assure us that we could get the shots in the first quarter of next year, we could set off firecrackers’ Taiwan has secured nearly 15 million COVID-19 vaccine doses, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday, as it reported five new imported infections among travelers from Indonesia and the Philippines. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that Taiwan on Monday signed a procurement contract with a COVID-19 vaccine manufacturer and paid a deposit to secure 10 million doses. It was the first contract finalized with a manufacturer and negotiations are under way with three other vaccine makers, Chen said. With the more than 4.6 million doses that can be obtained through the COVAX platform —