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October 19, 2009

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Hitler ad causes furore in Thailand

A HIGHWAY billboard using a saluting Adolf Hitler to advertise a Thai wax museum has been covered up after complaints from the Israeli and German ambassadors, the museum's manager said yesterday.

"The idea came from a creative (advertising) agency, and we did not mean to cause any offense," said Somporn Naksuetrong, the manager of the Louis Tussaud's Waxworks in the seaside resort town of Pattaya.

The billboard, which in Thai language said, "Hitler is not dead," had been up for several weeks on the main road from the capital Bangkok to Pattaya and was meant to promote the museum's planned opening next month.

"We weren't showing his image to celebrate him," Somporn said. "We think he is an important historical figure, but in a horrible way. We apologize for causing any offense which was not at all intended. We did not realize it would make people so angry."

The Bangkok Post newspaper quoted German Ambassador Hanns Schumacher as saying, "this kind of utterly tasteless advertisement would hurt the feelings of many people" and asked the billboard be taken down.

Israeli Ambassador Itzhak Shoham also was quoted saying he requested the same.

"It is totally unacceptable to have such a monster like Adolf Hitler on public display," he said. "How this could happen is beyond my understanding and comprehension."

Thailand has had past instances where icons of the genocidal German regime have been used for advertising and entertainment.

Two years ago, a Thai school apologized to an international Jewish human rights organization for its sponsorship of a celebration that involved a Nazi-themed parade for sports day. Photos from the event showed students with swastikas on their baseball caps behind a large sign with "NAZI."

In 1998, a commercial for potato chips depicting Hitler was quickly pulled.

Also, a "Nazi Bar" opened in downtown Bangkok in the late 1980s soon changed its name to "No Name Bar."


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