An American man is presumably nursing an injury and while being investigated for violating a German statute that forbids the display of Nazi symbols or slogans after being punched for giving the outlawed Hitlergruss—or Nazi salute—in public Saturday. A German citizen in downtown Dresden struck the man repeatedly after seeing him performing the salute, and according to the Associated Press, the American man had what officials referred to as “an extremely high blood alcohol level.”
The incident coincidentally took place on the same day that upwards of 1,000 white supremacists gathered in Charlottesville, Virginia Saturday in support of preserving physical and ideological relics representing their beliefs. Torches were burned and swastikas were spotted, but by and large hate speech is protected under America’s Constitutional First Amendment.
A few Twitter users noticed the contrast in how such actions are treated in the two countries.
An American beaten up in Germany because he gave a Nazi salute. Meanwhile, in America, neo Nazis are marching the streets. US worries me.— Natasha (@XaristocatX) August 13, 2017
German kids study Nazi past from highschool on. Thinking of doing a Nazi salute in Germany? Expect a 5 finger salute to the face.— Ana Manrique (@AnillaManrique) August 13, 2017
Here's an idea: start arresting these neo-fascists. A Nazi salute gets you charged in Germany, why not in America?— Scott A.E. Smith (@scottaesmith) August 13, 2017
“Dresden police said Sunday the 41-year-old, whose name and hometown weren’t given for privacy reasons, suffered minor injuries in the 8:15 a.m. Saturday assault,” the Associated Press reported.
This is the second time in a week tourists have been arrested or investigated in Germany for performing the Hitlergruss. Two Chinese tourists made news after being detained on August 5 for taking pictures of each other performing a similar “Heil Hitler” greeting in front of the Reichstag building in Berlin.
Depending on the nature and context of the offense, performing the Hitlergruss can result in jail time, hefty fines or both.
“We definitely treat this and all similar such cases as a serious violation of the law,” said Patricia Braemer, a spokeswoman for the Berlin police after last week’s offenders were released. “The law banning the use of symbols that violate the constitution applies not only to Germans but to everyone in Germany. Anyone coming here ought to know and respect the country’s customs.”