Pattaya Daily News

19 October 2009 :: 14:10:08 pm 7587

Hitler Billboard Provokes International Condemnation

Pattaya, October 19, 2009, [PDN] a billboard of Adolf Hitler giving the Nazi salute, erected on Sukhumvit Road to advertise the opening of a new Louis Tussaud‘s Waxworks in Royal Garden Plaza, has provoked international condemnation, especially from the Israeli and German ambassadors to Thailand.
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Louis Tussaud‘s Waxworks MD publically apologised on Sunday, October 18, for the billboard which shows the German dictator, with the caption ‘‘Hitler is Not Yet Dead‘‘ written in Thai.

The billboard, which has been displayed for two weeks on Sukhumvit Road, is among a number of others depicting famous dead people used to advertise the imminent opening of a new branch of Louis Tussaud’s Waxworks. The display of Nazi imagery is not illegal in Thailand, nor is it anywhere near as emotive as it is elsewhere; in Germany, for instance, a similar action would have incurred up to a three-year jail sentence. The museum MD, Somporn Naksuetrong, admitted that he had received somewhere in the region of 100 complaints, as well as a protest letter from the Israeli Embassy, which prompted him to cover up the offending image.

Two significant individuals had apparently received negative feedback concerning the Hitler billboard, namely the ambassadors of Germany and Israel. Germany’s Ambassador Hanns Schumacher had apparently seen the offending billboard when he visited Pattaya to attend the opening of the Child Protection and Development Centre last weekend.

According to the Bangkok Post, Mr. Schumacher told representatives of the Pattaya City Council and the local business community that “this kind of utterly tasteless advertisement would hurt the feelings of many people.” The German Embassy was also reportedly stated as having said “It could also create negative consequences to Pattaya as a popular tourist destination.”

The Israeli ambassador Itzhak Shoham was even more vociferous saying: “It is totally unacceptable to have such a monster like Adolf Hitler on public display. The Israeli embassy had received many complaints about the Hitler billboard.” According to the Bangkok Post, he further said “The image of Adolf Hitler and the writing underneath are not only offensive to the Holocaust survivors but also to anyone who deplores racist behaviour. They bring a chilling memory of a dictator who systematically murdered in horrific methods 11 million people, men, women and children, during World War II.” Pattaya is a resort popular among Israeli tourists and to have seen such an image, Ambassador Itzhak said, would have horrified them. The embassy asked that the offensive billboard be removed immediately.

Mr Naksuetrong , Tussaud’s MD apologised for the offensive billboard saying “We weren’t showing his image to celebrate him,” according to AFP, further saying “We think he is an important historical figure, but in a horrible way. We apologise for causing any offence which was not at all intended. We did not realise it would make people so angry.” “We think of Hitler as an important person, but not in a good way,” he said. The Bangkok Post reported Mr Naksuetrong as having said “In the museum we don’t show him with other world leaders, we show him in the scary section.” The museum, however, is considering replacing Hitler’s wax image with someone less offensive. In addition, by way of an apology, the museum is making a peace offering by giving discounted entry to the museum.

 


Editor’s comment.
It’s not enough for Tussaud’s MD to claim ignorance about the potential effect such an image would have, especially upon tourist sensibilities. It’s high time Thais, including public officials who must also share the blame, consulted international agencies to assess the potential impact of any controversial move, especially in such popular resorts as Pattaya.

Reporter : PDN staff   Photo : PDN staff   Category : Politics News

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