1. Pop art Hitler exhibit near Dachau triggers outrage
2. Plants sow seeds of hate: Swastika flowers in Melbourne
3. Vandals paint swastikas on synagogue at Lake Tahoe
[Note by Tom Gross]
I attach three items, with brief summaries first.
"OFFENSIVE" HITLER SHOW NEAR DACHAU
The first item is a follow-up to the dispatch titled New poll: 51 per cent of Germans equate Israel with Nazis (December 9, 2004) and other previous dispatches on Germany.
Reuters/Ha'aretz report today on the public outrage that has greeted an exhibition which opened two weeks in which a German arts professor/artist is depicting Adolf Hitler as a pop art style cartoon figure at an exhibition at a private gallery near the former Dachau concentration camp. The professor, Walter Gaudnek, said he wanted to show the "human" side of Hitler. 32,000 people were murdered at Dachau. In Germany, it is illegal to display any artwork glorifying Hitler. The exhibit is to close early following public protests.
SWASTIKA FLOWERS IN MELBOURNE DURING HANUKKAH
The second item is a follow-up to the dispatch titled Hamas art goes on display in Australia (December 13, 2004) and other previous dispatches on Australia.
The "Herald Sun" (Melbourne) reports how what it calls "a floral foul-up" has left a city street lined with swastika shapes during the Jewish Hanukkah celebrations.
Gardeners hired by Melbourne City Council intended to arrange the purple and white pot plants into neat geometric shapes. But they left six 3-meter garden beds displaying large Nazi symbols, apparently without realizing what these signs represented. The Lord Mayor of Melbourne has ordered that the large flower arrangements "be changed immediately."
SWASTIKAS AND "DIE JEW" PAINTED ON SYNAGOGUE AT LAKE TAHOE
The "Las Vegas Review-Journal" reports that a rash of anti-Semitic vandalism culminated during Hanukkah, with the discovery of swastikas painted on the door of a Jewish synagogue in the mountain resort town of at Lake Tahoe. Local authorities and the FBI are investigating the vandalism, which included a Nazi lightening bolt symbol, two swastikas and the words "Die Jew" in red spray paint.
POP ART HITLER SHOW NEAR DACHAU TRIGGERS OUTRAGE
Pop art Hitler show near Dachau triggers outrage
By Reuters (carried in Ha'aretz)
December 19, 2004
An artist who depicted Adolf Hitler as a pop art style cartoon figure at an exhibition near the former Dachau concentration camp said yesterday he would close the show two weeks after it opened due to public outrage.
Arts professor Walter Gaudnek said his brightly colored artworks aim to provoke people by showing Hitler as a human being rather than a monster, however, Jewish community and local political leaders see the images as dangerous.
"I wanted to educate my students on the historical phenomenon of Hitler, and show an aspect of him which has got lost over time," Gaudnek said after his paintings were printed in a Munich newspaper. "People forget why millions of Germans were fooled by Hitler... but I painted a picture of him with his dog, because he was once this figure in the past."
The bold, over-sized drawings show clusters of figures and swastika flags. In one, Hitler is seen speaking from a podium flanked by Nazi guards, while a girl with long blond braids listens intently.
Gaudnek's art is on show at his small private gallery 25 km (15 miles) from the Dachau concentration camp memorial in southern Germany, where some 32,000 people were murdered during the Holocaust.
The exhibition consists of 12 paintings and 24 prints, either showing a uniformed Hitler or other Nazi iconography.
Gaudnek, an American born in Germany, said he was surprised by the reaction. "I'm starting to take the pictures down today because of the criticism," he said.
Vice president of Germany's central Jewish Council, Charlotte Knobloch, told Munich's Abendzeitung newspaper that Gaudnek's approach is problematic. "There are plenty of ways of engaging with history," she said. "We could do without pictures of this monster without any problems." [Hitler] should not be portrayed as he is in this show."
Knobloch added there seemed to be a dangerous fashion for films and exhibitions focusing on Hitler as an individual. For example, a controversial German film tracking Hitler's last days in his bunker in Berlin, "The Downfall," was one of the country's top-selling films earlier this year. The movie depicts Hitler as an ordinary man, eating dinner and playing with children.
"These portrayals can be misinterpreted. The perpetrator can appear the victim," Knobloch said.
In Germany, it is illegal to display any artwork glorifying Hitler.
PLANTS SOW SEEDS OF HATE
Plants sow seeds of hate
By Fiona Hudson, city editor
The Herald Sun
December 10, 2004
A floral foul-up has left a city street lined with swastika shapes in a week of major Jewish celebrations.
Gardeners hired by Melbourne City Council intended to arrange the purple and white pot plants into neat geometric shapes. But they left six 3m garden beds along Swanston St displaying large Nazi symbols.
Jewish community representatives were appalled last night by the timing of the blunder.
City venues including Federation Square are hosting hundreds of Jews this week to celebrate the eight-day Hanukkah festival.
The council sent hired green thumbs to rearrange the six offending garden beds last night, about an hour after Herald Sun inquiries.
"The arrangements, even if done inadvertently, are in appalling taste," Lord Mayor John So said. "I have asked that they be changed immediately."
Vandals were initially believed to have rearranged the plants as a racist slur. But closer investigation showed gardeners had inadvertently used the pattern.
Jewish-born councillor Carl Jetter at first said he was appalled by the arrangements, which he thought were vandalism.
"It's sad and it's unnecessary. It makes us, as an international destination, more uncomfortable," he said.
"I disagree with and don't want to see any racist activity in our city."
When told the swastikas appeared to be unintentional, Cr Jetter dismissed concerns.
"It just sounds like an accident," he said.
A spokeswoman for deputy mayor Gary Singer, who is also Jewish, declined to make a comment.
Holocaust Museum president Shmuel Rosenkranz described the flower fiasco as offensive to most Melburnians.
"Any swastika anywhere would be of offence to anybody who lived through the Hitler era," he said.
VANDALS PAINT SWASTIKAS ON SYNAGOGUE AT LAKE TAHOE
Vandals paint swastikas on synagogue at Lake Tahoe
Las Vegas Review-Journal
December 9, 2004
A rash of anti-Semitic vandalism culminated Tuesday, the first day of Hanukkah, with the discovery of swastikas painted on the door of a Jewish synagogue in this mountain resort town.
Local authorities and the FBI are investigating the vandalism, which included a Nazi lightening bolt symbol, two swastikas and the words "Die Jew" in red spray paint. It's the first instance of anti-Semitism in Temple Bat Yam's 22 years in South Lake Tahoe.
"This is a tight-knit community that really cares about one another, regardless of background. It is really not something we would expect from each other here," said the synagogues rabbi, Jonathan Freirich.