Tussauds Trial Hitler 'Assassin' Fined 900 Euros

The original wax figure of Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler at Madame Tussauds in Berlin had a short life. Just minutes after the museum opened its doors, a man ripped off the Führer's head. Now, a Berlin court has had its say in the case.

The attack made headlines around the world. "At last, an assassination attempt on Hitler that succeeded," the writer and SPIEGEL columnist Henryk M. Broder joked at the time. And on Tuesday in Berlin, the "assassin" has had his day in court.

Last July, just minutes after a branch of wax figure museum Madame Tussauds opened in the German capital, a 41-year-old former policeman leapt over the table at which Hitler was sitting. He shouted "No more war!" and beheaded the doll by twisting it's beeswax head from it's fiberglass body. The left hand of the figure, worth around €200,000 ($274,000) in total, also broke off.

Police briefly detained the man, known only as Frank L., on suspicion of damaging property and causing injury -- he lightly wounded one of the two security guards who tried to stop him -- and he was eventually fined €1,800.

After the attack L., who told The Times of London that he left the police when he realized he had more affinity with the left-wing punk and squatter scene in Berlin, was hailed by many Germans as a hero. There had already been an intense debate about the appropriateness of a wax figure of Hitler so close to memorials for those who died under his regime.

Additionally L. also objected to the fine, making a trial necessary. Which is why he was in court in Berlin again today.

In explanation, the accused said he had come up with the plan to attack the wax Hitler last year while drinking with friends. The fact that the figure was part of a display which also included former Chancellor, Willy Brandt, made the group particularly indignant, as did the "blatantly positive" depiction of Hitler as an energetic, strong willed man.

"I virtually swore to my friends that I would. I didn't want to lose face," L. said in court, news agencies reported.

The next morning the single father of an eight year old, had to queue for some time to get into Madame Tussauds. And as German press agency, DPA, reports, L. told the court that he almost lost his nerve several times. But when he thought of his mother and the fact that she grew up in a post-war wasteland he regained his focus.

But L. also showed remorse, saying he wouldn't ever do the same again. He also apologized to the security guard because, he said, he had never meant to hurt anyone.

In the end, the court ruled that the currently unemployed man would only have to pay roughly half of the original fine: €900.

And after everything, L. believes he did win some sort of victory. In the intervening months Hitler's figure has been repaired. However he now sits apart at Madame Tussauds, a broken man trapped behind glass -- to prevent any further attacks -- in a version of the bunker where the original spent his last days. His hair is dishevelled, his tie askew and next to him sits a sign that informs visitors about the millions of victims of the Nazi regime.

cis -- with wire reports
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