German Theme Park Shuts Swastika-Shaped Ride

German Theme Park Shuts Swastika-Shaped Ride


BERLIN — An amusement park in Germany shut down a new attraction this week after complaints that it resembled a pair of giant, spinning swastikas that lifted riders into the sky over the Black Forest town of Löffingen.

The ride, called the Eagle’s Flight, included a set of four eagle-shaped cars, each connected at a right angle to a central axis, giving it a swastikalike appearance that was only amplified when it rose from the ground and twirled in the air.

Officials from the park, Tatzmania, did not respond to messages seeking comment on Wednesday. Rüdiger Braun, the owner of the park, told reporters from the European Broadcasting Union that until the backlash, he had not noticed the ride’s resemblance to an iconic symbol of Nazi Germany.

Mr. Braun told the news service that he apologized “to all persons who feel disturbed and insulted by our design” and said that the ride would be redesigned to have three cars on each arm instead of four.

“Then we will have this problem under control,” he said.When the ride was first noted on social media earlier this month, the reaction was a predictable stew of outrage, mockery and tasteless humor.

“Goebbels approves,” a commenter on Reddit remarked in reference to the Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels.

Since the founding of the country’s democracy after World War II, German law has prohibited the public display of symbols from banned organizations like the Nazi Party. That includes the swastika as well as the stiff-armed salute associated with Adolf Hitler.

The law also prohibits “incitement to hatred,” which has long been used to prosecute actions, like Holocaust denial, that might be protected in the United States by the First Amendment right to free expression.

The theme park controversy in Löffingen comes at a delicate time in Germany. The country has grappled in recent years with a wave of migrants from the Middle East and Africa, as well as a surge in both anti-Semitic crime and support for far-right, anti-immigrant groups like the nationalist Alternative for Germany party.

In May, the federal government issued a report that said anti-Semitic crime and hate crime targeting foreigners rose by almost 20 percent in 2018. Those offenses included assault, verbal attacks, graffiti, online hate speech and the use of Nazi symbols.

“Especially in our country, we have to stand against this with all our means,” Interior Minister Horst Seehofer told reporters when the report was issued in May.

The next month, Germany experienced what appears to have been the first far-right political assassination since the Nazi era when Walter Lübcke, a regional politician from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s center-right party, was fatally shot outside his home. He had been the target of multiple death threats for defending Ms. Merkel’s policy of taking in refugees.

None of that appears to have been on the mind of Tatzmania’s management when they inaugurated the Eagle’s Flight earlier this month.

The park began advertising the ride on Facebook on Aug. 2 with a post that included a picture of it in action, one swastikalike arm partially concealed behind a tree.

“Let yourself be surprised!” the park’s management wrote. “We are looking forward to your visit and wish all children a great holiday!”



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