Thai Billboard Featuring Hitler Causes Diplomatic Flap

Billboard promoted new wax museum; it was removed after complaints by Israel, German ambassadors.

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 Sunday.

"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 in a telephone interview.

"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," he continued.

The use of Nazi imagery does not stir the same emotional reaction in Asia as it does in the West, and Thailand has had past instances where icons of the genocidal German regime have been used for advertising and entertainment.

The Bangkok Post newspaper quoted German Ambassador Hanns Schumacher as saying he expressed to officials in Pattaya that this kind of utterly tasteless advertisement would hurt the feelings of many people. He requested that the billboard be taken down.

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

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

Neither diplomat could be reached Sunday for comment.