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Published on : Monday, August 7, 2017
Reichstag, which brims with German history, is a magnet for tourists. The meeting place of the Imperial Diet, it was torched in 1933 in a calamity that quickened Hitler’s rise and wasn’t reconstructed until after reunification more than half a century later. Two Chinese tourists made their way this weekend to the Reichstag where they were hauled off to a Berlin police station for making Hitler salutes outside the German parliament.
The pair have been released on bail of €500 (£450; $600) each.
The country has strict laws on hate speech and symbols linked to Hitler and the Nazis. According to the police, the two snapped cellphone photos of each other making a Nazi salute outside the Reichstag — an illegal act witnessed by police officers assigned to guard the numerous historic sites in the area.
The men – aged 36 and 49 – could face a fine or a prison sentence of up to three years, according to police.
A criminal investigation will continue, though the tourists are being permitted to leave the country with their tour group, a police spokeswoman said Sunday. Conviction can carry a prison sentence of up to three years.
According to the Mercator Institute for China Studies, a research foundation based in Berlin showed the number of Chinese tourists to Germany each year topped two million in 2014. Tourist organizations project 2.2 million Chinese visitors a year by 2020.