A Taiwanese group that trumpets its version of German dictator Adolf Hitler's ideals has declared its intention to register as a non-governmental organization.
Hsu Na-chi (許娜綺), the 22-year-old cofounder and spokesman of the National Socialism Association (NSA), claimed the organization has 20 paying members above the age of 20.
Many more participate on the association's forums, many under the cover of anonymity.
Writing in the NSA forum under the handle "Lahn," another founder-member of the NSA insisted the group is not neo-Nazi or racist.
"What Hitler meant by `superior race' is superior cultural content and not biological phenotype," he wrote.
Lahn Chao (
"We have too many high-school and junior-high students and not enough adults," Chao said. "We need more adults in order to qualify for NGO [non-governmental organization] status."
Chao also engages in "cosplay," striking poses in German army garb for pictures which he puts on his Web site. When asked why, despite his claims to be moderate, he still identifies with Nazi ideology, Chao said: "I like the feeling of unity of the period."
Elsewhere on the forum, however, Hsu, writing under the handle "Joshua," promulgated the treatment of immigrant workers and their offspring in terms that seemed disturbingly reminiscent of the Nazis' final solution.
"If foreign laborers have children in Taiwan, the government must exterminate them. In order to stop our genetic stock from further deterioration, strict monitoring and cruel punishments are called for," Joshua wrote.
"What the Republic of China practiced after they came to China is in essence National Socialism," Joshua wrote elsewhere. "Until [former president] LeeTeng-hui [李登輝] took over, Taiwan was wealthy, strong and united."
Hsu and Chao's group is not the only Nazi sympathizers' organization in Taiwan.
Eli Alberts was on his daily commute on the Tamshui MRT line when a smear of red and black caused him to do a double-take.
What Alberts saw was a red swastika flag hanging from a window in an apartment building near the MRT line.
"It is a very ... potent symbol. I couldn't help but notice," Alberts said. "What is it doing in Taipei?"
Alberts' friends in both the Taiwanese and expatriate community tried to reassure him by saying that the flag was probably a tasteless display of "Nazi kitsch," or that perhaps what he saw was actually a Buddhist swastika, an ancient symbol that had been in use long before the rise of Nazism.
"I know what a Buddhist swastika is," Alberts said. "I didn't think that was what I saw."
With Alberts' help, the Taipei Times located the apartment in which the Nazi flag was displayed. It was located in a gated community in Tienmu. A man in his late thirties answered the door and agreed to speak to us, on condition of anonymity.
"Hitler did a lot of bad things which I don't condone, but he also turned Germany from a weak and divided nation into a world power," he said. "I admire that because unity and strength is what Taiwan needs. Democracy and capitalism have their good qualities, but they have left our collective spirit chaotic, flagging and mired in defeatism."
These comments mirrored the rhetoric found on the NSA blog.
"We have seen relentless societal and political chaos since democracy was instituted in this country ... wake up, youths of Taiwan!" an open letter said.
However, the man claimed he had never heard of the NSA and had a view of the Chinese Nationalist Party's (KMT) legacy that was diametrically opposed to Hsu's.
"Taiwan used to be a part of the axis as a part of Japan," he said. "Who did more for Taiwan than Goto Shinpei as the governor-general?"
"When the KMT came, they were the brutal occupiers, they oppressed the Taiwanese," the man said.
Asked if he believed he would have fit in society if Taiwan were still under Japanese occupation, the man replied: "I am in contact with hard-right [sic] elements in Japan ... they all love Taiwanese people. If the KMT did not take over Taiwan, I believe that in time we would have been accepted as Japanese."
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