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Controversial Art: German Hotelier Lands in Court for Owning Hitler Portrait

A German hotel owner was taken to court after a guest spotted a portrait of Adolf Hitler on his wall. The case was dismissed because the man proved it had been hanging in a private area of the building, and that he had not broken a law which bans displaying images of Hitler in public. The portrait has been confiscated.

The act of publicly displaying portraits of Adolf Hitler is forbidden under German law. Zoom
DPA

The act of publicly displaying portraits of Adolf Hitler is forbidden under German law.

A German hotel owner was taken to court for having an A4-sized portrait of Adolf Hitler hanging on a wall of his private apartment.

The 55-year-old man, named only as Horst S., runs a three-room guesthouse near the western city of Frankfurt. In September 2009, a man from Nuremberg had asked if he had a double room available. He did not, but because the prospective guest hailed from the Bavarian city where his own grandfather was born, he decided to rent him a private room in his little hotel, where he also lives.

Mr S. was surprised when his guest later confronted him accompanied by two police officers. The public display of images of the Führer is banned in Germany, as is showing Nazi symbols such as the swastika and the SS runes. But having Hitler up in one's private home is allowed.

"That's what you get for being friendly," Horst S. said as he waited for the trial to begin at the Frankfurt district court on Tuesday, the Frankfurter Rundschau newspaper reported. He had arrived armed with a blueprint of his hotel to make clear that the Führer portrait was in the private part of the building, and that he had therefore not broken any laws.

"The judge dismissed the case because the picture was in a part of the building that is not publicly accessible," a spokesman for the court told SPIEGEL ONLINE. "He would only have been culpable if he had put it on public display. In that case the penalty can be a fine or a jail sentence up to three years."

The portrait has been confiscated and will not be returned to the hotel owner. Local media reports said the man was given the portrait by a friend who was aware of his Austrian roots. Hitler was born in Austria too.

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