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German Institute in Taipei condemns group's use of Nazi flags

The German Old Mark Association protested outside Taipei 101 wielding Nazi flags on Thursday, Jan. 18

German Old Mark Association (Image from Facebook)

German Old Mark Association (Image from Facebook)

TAIPEI (CNA) -- The German Institute Taipei on Friday strongly condemned a group of Taiwanese demonstrators for wielding Nazi flags outside the Taipei 101 skyscraper, slamming them for their "despicable" act of offending victims of the Holocaust.

On Thursday, supporters of the German Old Mark Association in Taipei, wielding Nazi flags, protested outside the landmark building, where the institute's office is located, against Germany's alleged refusal to reimburse mark bonds sold to Taiwanese people by the former Japanese colonial government in the 1920s.

At the time, the Japanese colonial authorities were said to have forced many Taiwanese to buy the bonds which Germany paid to Japan as reparations after World War I. The group claims Germany has since reimbursed old German mark holders in all countries except Taiwan, the Chinese-language Apple Daily reported.

A German Institute official, however, said the group has never presented evidence they hold bonds and had simply shown it photocopies of marks that have gone out of circulation and are worthless.

The official said that the group in recent months began using the flags to irritate the institute and pressure it to pay the group's members.

In a statement, it said the institute and the Israel Economic and Cultural Office in Taipei strongly condemned actions taken by the association members.

"Using the Nazi symbols and wielding the Nazi flag in public, is a despicable act of offense against the victims of the Holocaust and the Holocaust survivors," the statement said.

"Mocking the memory of the victims of Nazi rule in any way is utterly unacceptable and a gross abuse of the freedom of expression," it said.

Anti-Semitism remains a very sensitive issue in Germany more than 70 years after the end of the Nazi-era Holocaust, in which six million Jews were killed.

Also on Friday, the head of a German foundation invited to speak in Taiwan said the group should not have wielded the Nazi flag, saying that while everyone is entitled to express their personal opinion and has a right to be heard, society has its laws and limits.

"There is a bottom line in every society," said Rainer Eppelmann, who has been invited to Taipei to attend a forum organized by Taiwan's Ill-gotten Party Assets Settlement Committee.

One cannot undermine the basic values of society, he said.

German Institute in Taipei condemns group's use of Nazi flags
Rainer Eppelmann, right (CNA Image)

Some Taiwanese people apparently lack a clear understanding of Germany's history, Eppelmann said, adding that he is willing to hold talks with the foundation members to educate them on this sensitive issue.

Anti-Semitism has no place in Germany, and people there are strictly forbidden from using Nazi symbols and wielding the Nazi flag in public. Those caught in the act face imprisonment or a fine, according to Eppelmann.

Taiwan, however, does not have such laws, according to the institute official.