‘Hitler is not dead’ billboard rattles Bangkok envoys
A billboard featuring a saluting Adolf Hitler advertising a new wax museum in Pattaya -- which can be seen in this Bangkok Post story -- has shocked the Israeli and German ambassadors to Thailand. And not in a good way.
The offending billboard, which has since been covered up, was put up on the main highway into the seaside resort town as part of an advertising campaign to promote next month’s opening of the Louis Tussaud's Waxworks. In Thai-language, the billboard reads: "Hitler is not dead."
The Post reported that German Ambassador Hanns Schumacher told officials in Pattaya, “this kind of utterly tasteless advertisement would hurt the feelings of many people” and asked that the billboard be taken down.
Israeli Ambassador Itzhak Shoham was quoted by the Post as saying: “It is totally unacceptable to have such a monster like Adolf Hitler on public display. How this could happen is beyond my understanding and comprehension.”
In other reports, Louis Tussaud’s Waxworks manager Somporn Naksuetrong said that the idea came from an advertising agency and was neither meant to cause offense nor celebrate Hitler, merely to point out the infamy of a historic figure.
"We think of Hitler as an important person, but not in a good way," Naksuetrong was quoted by the Bangkok Post. "In the museum we don't show him with other world leaders, we show him in the scary section."
Local blogger Talen of Thailand, Land of Smiles weighed in on the controversy: “One can only wonder what they were thinking when they could have used other historical figures set to be on display such as Gandhi, Michael Jackson or martial arts legend Bruce Lee. Of course they wouldn’t have generated the publicity that Hitler has, and everyone knows that there is no such thing as bad publicity.”
This is not the first time a wax image of the former German leader has attracted worldwide attention. Berlin’s branch of Madam Tussauds faced Israeli and German outrage in May for its lifelike image of Hitler. On the opening day of the wax museum, an enraged man even ripped the head off of the wax figure.
Here in Thailand, Talen says there’s a very real fascination with the Nazis and their symbolism.
“Just two years ago a Thai school put on a show that had students dressed in Nazi regalia complete with guns and swastikas,” he wrote on his blog. “After all was said and done, many apologies were made and the teacher in charge of the event was let go. The school has since implemented Holocaust lectures into it’s curriculum in a bid to promote understanding of the atrocities committed by the Nazis.”