Posted Monday, November 22, 1999

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Associated Press

November 22, 1999

German outrage over advert

Taiwan Company Uses Cartoon Hitler

By William Foreman
Associated Press Writer

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- A Taiwanese company is using large subway advertisements that feature a cartoon of a smiling Adolf Hitler to sell German-made electric space heaters.

German culture and trade officials in Taipei said today they were appalled by the ad, which 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 German manufacturer's name, DBK.

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 that features a 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 could not say whether the German firm had been informed about the ad.

"As always, we do our promotion planning independently, and we report what we have done to DBK afterward," she said in a statement faxed to The Associated Press.

DBK, based in the southwest German city of Kandel, could not immediately be reached for comment early today.

Patricia Kortmann of the German Cultural Center in Taipei was dismayed by the ad and 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.

Johannes Goeth of the German Trade Office in Taipei also doubted that the manufacturer knew about the ad beforehand. He said the trade office faxed DBK a letter two weeks ago telling it about the ad and has yet to receive a reply.

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.

© Copyright 1999 The Associated Press
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