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Anti-Nazi laws deserve utmost respect

By Zhang Zhouxiang | China Daily | Updated: 2017-08-10 07:38

Editor's note: Two Chinese tourists were arrested in Berlin recently for giving a Nazi salute while posing for photos in front of the Reichstag parliamentary building. Two experts share their views with China Daily's Zhang Zhouxiang from different perspectives. Excerpts below:

Lessons for Japan in laws against fascism


Wu Jiang, an associate professor of German studies at Beijing Foreign Studies University

Visitors to Germany should know they have to abide by the country's strict laws against the use of Nazi symbols. According to German laws, those using Nazi symbols, wearing Nazi uniforms, or making Nazi salutes in public face up to three years' imprisonment and/or a heavy fine. And people who publicly defend the crimes of Nazis face up to five years' imprisonment.

Some laws have been amended to be more specific. On June 2, 2014, the German parliament passed a bill that prohibits the use of the number "88" in public under certain conditions, because the common salute in Nazi Germany was "Heil Hitler", and many neo-Nazis use"88" to camouflage their identity and purpose as "H" is the eight letter of the alphabet.

Germany launched two world wars that devastated Germany and many other countries, and left millions of people dead. After the end of World War II, however, Germany atoned for its dark past.

Many German leaders have apologized for the deaths and sufferings unleashed by the Nazis. In 1970, for example, Willy Brandt, then chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, knelt before a monument to the German occupation-era Warsaw Ghetto Uprising during his visit to Poland. His show of humility left a deep impression about Germany's sincerity to atone for its past.

Germany's strict laws against Nazi symbols should be a lesson for Japan, as the Japanese Constitution neither forbids people to use militarist logos of the imperial era, nor prohibits Japanese politicians from visiting Yasukuni Shrine, which among others honors 14 Class-A war criminals of World War II.

As the main victim of Japanese aggression before and during World War II, China needs to rally social and political support to oppose some Japanese leaders' attempts to whitewash their war past. Since Japan has not sincerely apologized for the atrocities it committed during World War II, China needs to put more pressure on it to do so.

Tourists should enhance knowledge about history

"Please respect local customs and obey local laws when you visit a foreign country." Almost every domestic travel agency tells tourists before they embark on a foreign tour. But it seems the two Chinese tourists in Berlin didn't pay heed to the advice.

Gong Jian, an associate professor at Wuhan Branch of China Tourism Academy

Many people attach greater importance to "local customs" than "local laws". While traveling abroad, Chinese tourists are usually curious to know what the local people eat and drink, but they often forget to study local laws.

For example, some Chinese parents prone to thrash their kids in public can be detained in the United States for doing so.

This time, the two Chinese tourists in Berlin didn't have even the basic knowledge about German laws. The two have been punished for their wrongdoings. But we still need to strengthen education about world history and cultural exchanges to prevent such things from happening again.

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