Taiwan Company Uses Cartoon Hitler
Nov. 22, 1999
TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) _ A Taiwanese company is using large subway advertisements that feature a cartoon of a smiling Adolf Hitler to sell German-made electric space heaters.
Israeli and German culture and trade officials in Taipei said today they were appalled by the ad. The maker of the space heaters, DBK, based in the southwest German city of Kandel, said it would order an immediate halt to the campaign.
The ad shows Hitler in a khaki uniform and black jackboots, his right arm raised high in a Nazi salute. Above him is a slogan that says ``Declare war on the cold front!''
There are no swastikas in the ad, but the Hitler figure wears a red band around his left arm with a white circle bearing the DBK name.
Yu-shan Shen of the K.E. and Kingstone trading company said her firm sells the German heaters in Taiwan and designed the ad campaign, which began this month.
``We decided to use Hitler because as soon as you see him, you think of Germany. It leaves a deep impression,'' said Shen, who works in the company's planning and design department.
Shen said the company was not worried that the public would have a negative reaction to the ad featuring the man who oversaw the killing of millions of Jews during World War II.
``Most people in Taiwan are not that sensitive about Hitler,'' she said.
Shen said the company does its promotion planning independently and reports what it has done to DBK afterward.
At DBK headquarters in Germany, executive director Hans-Hermann Alfers said the company first heard about the ad on Friday. Alfers said the company's managers will order an immediate stop to the campaign.
Uri Gutman of the Israel Economic and Cultural Office in Taipei said the advertisement was ``unbelievable.'' He feared using Hitler's image in such ads would make Nazi atrocities seem less real.
``It supports the denial of the Holocaust,'' said Gutman, referring to fringe theories that the Nazis didn't kill Jews.
Johannes Goeth of the German Trade Office in Taipei said the trade office faxed DBK a letter two weeks ago telling it about the ad and had yet to receive a reply.
But Goeth said he doubted that the manufacturer knew about the ad beforehand. Patricia Kortmann of the German Cultural Center in Taipei, who said she was dismayed by the ad, also doubted a German firm would approve it.
``It sounds too absurd to me that a German company would agree to such an advertising strategy,'' Kortmann said.
Both Kortmann and Goeth said the advertisement didn't surprise them because they often encounter Taiwanese who admire Hitler and lack a deep understanding of European history.
``Taxi drivers will often tell me Hitler was a great man, very strong,'' Goeth said.