Taiwan Political Activists Admiring Hitler Draw Jewish Protests

Simon Wiesenthal Center: Unacceptable to promote policies, images of Nazi Germany as worthy of emulation.

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An international Jewish human rights organization this week condemned a year-old network of Taiwan political activists who revere Adolf Hitler, and an Israeli official said he would protest to the Taiwan government.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center on Tuesday condemned the National Socialism Association for championing the former Nazi dictator and blaming democracy for Taiwan's "social unrest."

"In the global interconnected world we live in, it is unacceptable anywhere to seek to promote the policies and images of Hitler and Nazi Germany as worthy of emulation," Simon Wiesenthal Center Associate Dean Rabbi Abraham Cooper said in a statement.

About 1,000 people, all from Taiwan and mostly college-aged, belong to the 19-month-old National Socialist Association, said self-described "main leader" Yue Shu-ya, 23, of Taipei.

Members usually communicate via their Web site, twnazi.org, he said.

Co-founder Chao Lahn, 24, said he did not accept all of Hitler's Nazi ideology and denied he was a racist.

However, he said, he advocated imposing limits on the number of foreign workers in Taiwan. "My main goal is to develop Taiwan's strength and to foster national unity," Chao said. "I think we have to work hard to restore traditional Chinese values like Confucianism."

"We want to study Hitler's good points, not study his massacres," Yue said, suggesting that Taiwan learn from Hitler's "welfare state" model. "It has nothing to do with Nazism."

Israel's representative to Taiwan said he planned to protest to the Taiwan government about conditions on the island that led to the group's formation.

"(The group) is a reflection of ignorance and an emotional void as well as psychological and social sickness, or a combination of all the above," said Raphael Gazmou, the Israel Economic and Cultural Office representative in Taipei.

"It's also particularly sad that in Taiwan, where people have managed to achieve democracy and human rights, there is this kind of nostalgia for monsters as role model," he said.

Emile Sheng, formerly of Taipei's Soochow University, and now an official in the city's municipal government, said the emergence of Taiwan's Nazi movement reflected the island's ignorance of modern Western history.

"People here don't really understand what Nazism is," he said. "They're not really racist or anti-Jewish. They don't even know what it means." Sheng said one of his students at Soochow had been Hsu Na-chi, who is the other founder of the National Socialism Association.

"I barely remember her," he said. "She was quiet in class, not the kind of student who made an impression."

Hitler has been the subject of controversy before in Taiwan. In December 2004, Taiwan's Nationalist Party withdrew a presidential election campaign advertisement featuring a picture of Hitler following protests from Jewish groups.

In 2001, President Chen Shui-bian's Democratic Progressive Party also withdrew a television commercial with footage of Hitler. In a separate incident, a Taiwan bistro removed pictures of Holocaust victims and other decor that upset Jewish groups.