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Author Topic: Symbol Use Rule regarding Nazi Iconography  (Read 11088 times)
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Westfalia Chris
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Location: The Münsterland, Germany
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« on: May 09, 2013, 03:24:12 PM »

Due to given cause, I thought it appropriate to repeat the "No Swastika" rule here so we don´t run into trouble.

It runs down to this: When posting images etc. in this section (and any other section of LAF, for that matter), you may NOT include Nazi symbols since they are forbidden by German law outside of schoolbooks and any historical context (ie, museums etc.).

This includes specifically, but is not limited to the following:

  • any icon including a swastika, e.g. the party flag, the state flag, naval flags and ensigns, the logos of Nazi organisations and the Afrika Korps Palm Tree
  • any SS- or Waffen-SS-related insignia, e.g. SS runes, the SS Death's Head symbol, unit insignia of Waffen SS units
  • post-war neo-Nazi symbols, e.g. the "Black Sun" , the Triskel in a Nazi connotation and others
  • any symbols which closely resemble the above icons in shape and/or color, including (but not limited to) Finnish hakaristi, Asiatic manji etc

Also, and this is where it gets really tricky, any "new creation" that is intended to evoke the iconography can be subject to legal prosecution. So, if you plan to use a different symbol in place of a swastika on a flag, this could become a problem, too. Leaving out any symbols in the first place would be the most rigorous, but at the same time the most prudent option.


Unfortunately, the respective paragraphs of German penal law (§§86 and 86a) are open to interpretation, although they do provide a comprehensive, but not definitive list as well.

Since we do not want LAF to get shut down because of this, please refrain from posting such pictures (and probably links as well).

WHAT YOU ARE ALLOWED AND ADVISED TO DO:

Generally-speaking, a red field with a white circle is fine, legally, as evidenced by its long-time use by model aircraft manufacturers. If any of your models has a swastika flag on it (as an aerial recognition symbol), it is enough to paint over the swastika using a picture-editing software such as MS Paint, Photoshop or similar - it takes a couple of moments, but your images will comply with the law.

Here are two older posts on the subject, re-quoted to provide further insight:

Quote from: Lowtardog
OK guys Alex needs this subject to be dropped as it is against the law in Germany, here is the  (admittedly from Wiki) low down why. Technically I suppose under these regulations the forum if it showed the symbol could be accused of disributing the material.

Thems the rules so lets not get hot and bothered about it Smiley

The German (and Austrian) postwar criminal code makes the public showing of the Hakenkreuz (the swastika) and other Nazi symbols illegal and punishable, except for scholarly reasons. It is even censored from the lithographs on boxes of model kits, and the decals that come in the box. It is also censored from the reprints of 1930s railway timetable published by Bundesbahn. The eagle remains, but appears to be holding a solid black circle between its talons. The swastikas on Hindu and Jain temples are exempt, as religious symbols cannot be banned in Germany.

A German fashion company was investigated for using traditional British-made folded leather buttons after complaints that they resembled swastikas. In response, Esprit destroyed two hundred thousand catalogues.[


The relevant excerpt of the German criminal code reads:

§ 86 StGB Dissemination of Means of Propaganda of Unconstitutional Organizations

(1) Whoever domestically disseminates or produces, stocks, imports or exports or makes publicly accessible through data storage media for dissemination domestically or abroad, means of propaganda:

1. of a party which has been declared to be unconstitutional by the Federal Constitutional Court or a party or organization, as to which it has been determined, no longer subject to appeal, that it is a substitute organization of such a party;

4. means of propaganda, the contents of which are intended to further the aims of a former National Socialist organization, shall be punished with imprisonment for not more than three years or a fine.

(3) Subsection (1) shall not be applicable if the means of propaganda or the act serves to further civil enlightenment, to avert unconstitutional aims, to promote art or science, research or teaching, reporting about current historical events or similar purposes.

§ 86a StGB Use of Symbols of Unconstitutional Organizations


(1) Whoever:

1. domestically distributes or publicly uses, in a meeting or in writings (§ 11 subsection (3)) disseminated by him, symbols of one of the parties or organizations indicated in § 86 subsection (1), nos. 1, 2 and 4; or

2. produces, stocks, imports or exports objects which depict or contain such symbols for distribution or use domestically or abroad, in the manner indicated in number 1,

shall be punished with imprisonment for not more than three years or a fine.

(2) Symbols, within the meaning of subsection (1), shall be, in particular, flags, insignia, uniforms, slogans and forms of greeting. Symbols which are so similar as to be mistaken for those named in sentence 1 shall be deemed to be equivalent thereto. […]

Quote from: Westfalia Chris
First, please note that I´m rather in favour of the laws, so if the wording below appears critical of them, it is because I try to describe it as clearly as possible.

The point is, as far as I know:

At Nuremberg, a vast number or Nazi Germany´s organisations, including the NSDAP, SA, SS, NSKK, Gestapo, and AFAIK all NSDAP-related suborganisations, were declared "criminal institutions/organisations" - note though that the Wehrmacht was NOT so branded. When our constitution was written, these organisations were specifically outlawed as anti-democratic and anti-constitutional; in fact, all organisations that have an antidemocratic agenda are outlawed (or become so, once identified and sufficiently proven by criminal investigation). Yesterday, for example, the right-wing group "Sturm 34" was such outlawed as being anti-constitutional.

Now, articles 86 and 86a of the German penal law define the handling of symbols associated with such organisations. This includes the swastika, SS-runes, "black sun", SS-Death´s Head, etc. pp.

Their use BEYOND scientific publications and display (such as in history books and museum displays, such as photographic documentaries in memorials) as well as for educational purposes (schoolbooks) is specifically illegal UNLESS the context of the use makes it absolutely clear that they are used to denounce the criminal state of the organisations involved.

In particular, this is to prevent them being used to propagate or trivialize Nazi crimes.

Now, the law is pretty clear about the actual images. That´s why, for example, you are not allowed to sell model decals including the actual swastika in Germany, IN ANY SHAPE (that includes the Afrika Korps palm tree, for example). There WERE occasions where manufacturers, particularly foreign ones, supplied four angular decals that could be combined to form the swastika.

Model aircraft displaying the "Sondermarkierung Seitenleitwerk" (special tail marking, our favourite euphemism for that) may NOT be publicly displayed, however, if the exhibitor places blinds, or sleeves, over the tails of the plane, it´s okay.

The reasoning behind this, as stated before by me, is not to allow Nazis "loopholes" of any kind - we have the "Equal Treatment Principle", so they might use it for leverage to get the right to display it "if the modellers are allowed, why ain´t we?".

Next is symbols LOOKING OBVIOUSLY SIMILAR TO NAZI SYMBOLS. Most obviously, this includes the triskel (used by ZA right-wing groups), and any symbol not actually displaying Nazi symbology but being obviously designed to evoke the same association. IN THEORY, that includes "broken" or "crossed-out" swastikas, which are very popular as sew-on patches with left-wing "activists". Recently, however, judicial ruling allowed for THIS use because it is patently obvious that the symbols are used to denounce the Nazis and distance oneself from them, while (in the case of the crossed-out swastika) incorporating actual Nazi symbols.

It is all a case of preventing the Neo-Nazis using this symbology for their own propaganda uses and not to trivialize the Nazi crimes and atrocities.

My personal stance is, better safe than sorry. Have ONE definitive ruling on the actual icons/symbols, and don´t allow for exceptions. Point. I can live without Sondermarkierung Seitenleitwerk, complete Afrikakorps Palms, or aerial recognition blankets.

Please pay attention to the paragraph in bold. Now, this allows using original footage in a documentary context, and if it is used to promote Nazi ideology, it an be forbidden by the courts and may result in prosecution of the perpetrators.

For fictional works, again, the message is important. Since "Raiders", for example, was clearly a piece of entertainment and not Nazi propaganda, there was no need to prohibit it (although there was SOME controversy, IIRC). Other stuff which have no artistic value to speak of, such as... uhh... "Ilsa, She-Wolf of the SS" and other "Nazploitation" movies, won´t pass; either, they get "indiziert" ("put on the index", which means NO advertising of the article, no public display, no sale to minors) or, if there´s sufficient proof and the judge goes along, even outlawed (if being blatant propaganda).

The whole discussion can be read here. Read up, but please don´t start the discussion anew, since we will not enter into it again.

Suffice it to say, no posting of Nazi symbols if you don´t want LAF to get shut down. We will delete offending imagery as soon as we get aware of it.

In addition, do NOT post links to such material, since German website owners can be held liable for that as well.
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