Hitler’s Not So Triumphant Return

Photo courtesy AP

Photo courtesy AP

Not only has the Nazi regime reared it’s ugly head again in Thailand this time their leader is making an appearance as well.

Next month Louis Tussuad’s Waxworks is set to open in Pattaya and among the famous and infamous to be on display will be the likeness of Adolph Hitler. The wax Hitler will be on display in what is termed “the scary section” of the museum.  The owners say it’s not meant to celebrate Hitler but to show the important historical figure in a horrible way.

Unfortunately the Thai’s never seem to get it right when it comes to the Nazi’s as can be seen in the above picture of a billboard erected on the main highway leading into Pattaya. The caption underneath the large image of Hitler reads ” Hitler is not dead”. Rightly so,  this has upset and angered many German and Israeli tourists as well as their embassies who have asked that the tasteless billboard be taken down.

The museum operators have agreed to do away with the Hitler image and will be replacing the billboard with another historical figure to promote the grand opening in November. 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.

While I’m sure that the Hitler billboard was at least partially a stunt to garner interest and get people talking about the upcoming opening, there still remains a very real fascination in Thai culture with the Nazi’s 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 swastika’s. 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 Nazi’s.

Nazi themed school event in Thailand (3) Nazi themed school event in Thailand Nazi themed school event in Thailand (2)

Nazi themed school event in Thailand (4) Nazi themed school event in Thailand (1) Nazi Themed School event in Thailand 12

Photo’s courtesy AP

And still the fascination with Nazi’s continues. If you go to any market in Bangkok or Pattaya you’re bound to come across t-shirts and other Nazi paraphernalia for sale. I’ve never seen anyone actually buying any of it but just the fact that it is for sale suggests that there is a void being filled.

Nazi t-shirt for sale at Chatuchak Market, Bangkok Nazi motorcycle helmet Nazi paraphenalia for sale in Pattaya

The Swastika is actually a very ancient and revered Buddhist symbol that Hitler usurped for his own purposes which tainted the symbol forever with it’s negative connotations.

I honestly think it’s more of a fashion statement than any kind of racism or direct affront to any nationality, but you would think that by the 21st century the people of the world would understand and appreciate the atrocities committed behind these symbols even if they weren’t directly impacted by it.

One can only hope that this infatuation with the Nazi’s will fade away into Thai history soon but I have a feeling this won’t be the last we hear from Hitler and his buddies in Thailand.

For a great look into the Asian fascination with the Nazi’s check out Sweet “Nazi Chic”: It Could Only Have Happened In Thailand? over at Absolutely Bangkok

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27 Responses to Hitler’s Not So Triumphant Return
  1. Catherine
    October 18, 2009 | 1:11 pm

    I was headed off to bed when your post caught my attention. Hmmm… Hitler in Thailand? Very odd.

    Which makes it about normal out here (I guess).

    The royal third in line (UK) took it lightly some years back. He showed up in SS fancy dress and got creamed by the British press. But (unlike the Thais) with a German background, he knew what was what.

    I still think the press overreacted.
    Catherine´s last blog ..Thai 101 Learners Series: A Few Facts about Farang My ComLuv Profile

  2. SiamRick
    October 18, 2009 | 2:15 pm

    The mind boggles at what Thais do sometimes. I believe, simply, that they had no idea what the Nazis represented and just liked the look of it or that well, no one’s done the theme before. Now the perpetrators know there’s a reason! We can hope. Then again, we witnessed coyote dancers in front of military coup tanks.
    SiamRick´s last blog ..Toronto Asian film festival only glow in grey November My ComLuv Profile

  3. BangkokDan
    October 19, 2009 | 4:37 am

    OK, politically completely incorrect to promote marketing by means of a mass murderer.

    But hey, he’s even saluting with his left arm.

    While I welcome a debate about the pros and cons I think the whole affair is blow out of proportion. Other mass murderers remain glorified – and nobody even notices.

    If anyone is interested, here is some more background on Asians’ silent fascination with Hitler – Talen, no spam intended!:

    BangkokDan´s last blog ..Corporate 3G Disobedience & True Hypocrisy My ComLuv Profile

    • Talen
      October 19, 2009 | 11:37 am

      No spam taken Dan, excellent article.

      I think of Hitler as much more than a mass murderer though. He sought to extinguish an entire race of people which puts him on another level. Although I do agree that other have been glorified without much notice…particularly in America.

  4. chris
    October 19, 2009 | 5:33 am

    I saw the Hitler sign last week along with other famous people down the middle of the street in Sumkomvit Road. I was surprised, but I dismissed it as somehting you might only see in Thailand. Later that day I spotted and very nice young lady riding a motorcycle with a nazi helmet and that to me was in poorer taste. I dont think anyone objects to seeing a hitler wax dummy at a wax works.

    • Talen
      October 19, 2009 | 11:41 am

      I don’t think anyone cares about seeing a Hitler wax dummy and something like that would be expected at a wax museum. But having a huge Hitler saluting on the highway to promote the grand opening is a little different.

      Obviously the promoters knew it would cause a stir and get people talking.

  5. Catherine
    October 19, 2009 | 5:36 am

    Excellent article Dan.

    We are expected to tiptoe around issues in Thailand. It is not too much to ask that Thais do the same for others.

    Ps: I was going to add… ‘You can spam me all you want, I’m easy’… but it just didn’t come out right.

    So instead I will simplify it to: ‘thank you for sharing the url’.
    Catherine´s last blog ..Thai 101 Learners Series: A Few Facts about Farang My ComLuv Profile

  6. Oneditorial
    October 19, 2009 | 11:36 am

    I don’t suppose many foreign tourists, particularly those who come from European nations, will find our black humour remotely amusing. Having said that, it still amazes me to see this story on the international media like the BBC.
    Oneditorial´s last blog ..They are so unbelievable My ComLuv Profile

    • Talen
      October 19, 2009 | 11:47 am

      Even though what took place in Germany with Hitler happened a long time ago it is still an ugly wound for many. Even today there are Nazi groups that subscribe to Hitlers ideologies and would love to do the same.

      It’s not so much Hitler but the hate behind his name and image that scares and upsets people.

  7. Catherine
    October 19, 2009 | 11:57 am

    Talen, I have about a twelve foot Chairman Mao statue in my neighbourhood. It is well crafted. And chilling to pass.

    From Wiki: Mao’s policies and political purges from 1949-1975 are widely believed to have caused the deaths of tens of millions of people.

    When I find out the story, I’ll post about it on WLT. But until then I will wait.
    Catherine´s last blog ..iPhone Apps: Keep an Eye on Your iPhone Updates My ComLuv Profile

    • Talen
      October 19, 2009 | 12:42 pm

      Yeah, Mao is another kinda warm and fuzzy guy. Even though he probably killed more people than Hitler the secretive nature of China kept him from the same light that Hitler was put under for a long time.

      I’ve also seen quite a few Mao t-shirts at the various markets around Thailand.

      And Thailand isn’t the only country with these odd fascinations. America is just as bad. You can buy Charles Manson t-shirts and John Wayne Gacy art prints.

  8. Catherine
    October 19, 2009 | 12:57 pm

    Germany too. When I was at a beer fest in the Pfalz, the long trestle tables were littered with Nazi propaganda.

    The sponsors of the fest did not place the papers there (I believe they are illegal in Germany?) so at least it was frowned on.
    Catherine´s last blog ..iPhone Apps: Keep an Eye on Your iPhone Updates My ComLuv Profile

    • Talen
      October 19, 2009 | 1:14 pm

      Was that long ago Cat? You are correct all of that sort of Nazi regalia and propaganda is illegal to own and sell in Germany.

      There is also all the new Nazi propaganda issued by the white supremacist groups in Europe and America which I believe is illegal in Germany as well.

  9. Catherine
    October 19, 2009 | 1:20 pm

    It was a fair bit ago… the 90’s. But I am fairly sure it was illegal back then too.
    Catherine´s last blog ..iPhone Apps: Keep an Eye on Your iPhone Updates My ComLuv Profile

  10. C Bloor
    October 19, 2009 | 6:23 pm

    The Thai people just don’t care about what other races think.

    In my experience, Thai’s care about money.

    Westerners just don’t get it. If it wasn’t for money, no Westerner would be welcome in Thailand.

    • Talen
      October 19, 2009 | 6:46 pm

      The same could easily be said about any country.

      I’m sure there are Thai’s that would rather have our money than us but from my experiences that’s way too broad a brush. I have been treated very well by poor Thai’s that didn’t know me from Adam and didn’t care if I had money or not.

      Just this past Songkran while I was up country I would have died if I had partaken of all the hospitality offered me in just 3 days.

  11. Ben Shingleton
    October 19, 2009 | 9:22 pm

    I think everyone realises that ‘Hitler’ the and the Nazi regime don’t hold the same connotions with Thai’s as they do with the Europeans and the Americans…. Also, I think the Asians ‘generally’ are a bit better at letting things lie in the past, whereas, we in the West, maybe, a little guilty of holding on….a bit longer…? I don’t know if one way is better than the other.

    I’ve had to explain the entire workings of WW2 to my better half, she was never taught it at school, as we were (as well as at home by parents / grandparents). I don’t blame the German expats in Thailand for kicking up a fuss. I think you’re possibly right about the organisers intent, although, I also think it is a powerful sign, and I myself would consider going to see it! So possibly,the ploy has worked!
    Ben Shingleton´s last blog ..Temple fund raiser in Suphanburi My ComLuv Profile

    • Talen
      October 19, 2009 | 9:32 pm

      One thing I can say for sure Ben…there is still a very heavy interest in Hitler if my page views today are any guage.

      I think what you said is probably the truth for the majority of Thai’s…they just don’t know.

      Hitler was a very intelligent man. The symbols he used and the style of uniforms were very much so a part of that machine and he made sure to make use of fashion. It’s no wonder we still see those symbols today.

  12. Catherine
    October 19, 2009 | 9:36 pm

    Talen, I agree. And if Hitler were alive today, he might be heading up a successful design and marketing company instead.

    Now that’s a thought…
    Catherine´s last blog ..Interview: Benjawan Poomsan Becker My ComLuv Profile

  13. Martyn
    October 20, 2009 | 12:59 pm

    Talen I have read all the comments and being from England I have obviously heard of the guy but I personally would look at it a little differently. If I had been driving in Thailand and had seen the billboard of Hitler then it would have been a reminder to me that in life you have to try and do a little good each day. I would view it as a tap on the shoulder that there are enough assholes in this world without me adding to the number.

    What Hitler did will never be forgotten and sometimes it’s hard to forget but the giant billboard would have said to me don’t ever even slightly go down the road which that asshole took. I’d have taken one big positive from it and not offence but then again I’m not Jewish.
    Martyn´s last blog ..Mama’s Kitchen – Warts and All My ComLuv Profile

  14. Talen
    October 20, 2009 | 1:29 pm

    Martyn, I agree that it’s basically one big warning on how not to conduct your life…but you would think with tourism down the Thai’s would do whatever they can not to make matters worse.

  15. Jeeves
    October 20, 2009 | 4:03 pm

    “…committed by the Nazi’s.”
    Why the apostroph?

    • Talen
      October 21, 2009 | 5:42 pm

      “Why the apostroph?”

      That would be a mistake…happens to the beat of us.

  16. Natta
    October 22, 2009 | 4:17 am

    Actually my high school was also the one who did the sports day under the concept of Nazi, which left some of my foreign English teachers pretty stunned when they saw the symbol.

  17. Nina
    October 24, 2009 | 4:39 pm

    This is quite unbelievable… I never knew that some parts of the world would be that oblivious of common knowledge and important events in history. I’m shocked that the teachers apparently encouraged their students to that event, they really should know better. A lot better.
    Best wishes from Germany

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