Nazi Gnomes Invade German Town

Artist pokes fun at fascism with troll exhibit

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Oct 15, 2009 3:21 AM CDT

(Newser) – Some 1,250 controversial German gnomes giving the heil Hitler salute will greet visitors to the center of the German town of Straubing beginning today. The artist behind the gnome blitzkrieg says the installation, Dance With the Devil, is designed "to get people to think, to react," and to draw attention to the rise of far-right movements across Europe.

Giving the heil Hitler salute or displaying Nazi imagery is illegal in Germany, but artist Ottmar Hoerl has successfully defended his work in court, saying it ridicules rather than glorifies the Nazis. "In 1942 it would have been the Nazis massacring me because of this piece of art,” he said. “I am presenting the master race as garden gnomes, and that falls into any sensible definition of satire.”

German artist Ottmar Hoerl's assistant positions  saluting Nazi gnomes.
German artist Ottmar Hoerl's assistant positions saluting Nazi gnomes.   (AP Photo/Christof Stache)
Gnomes giving the heil Hitler salute stand in the installation 'Dance with the Devil' of German artist Ottmar Hoerl at a square in Straubing in southern Germany yesterday.
Gnomes giving the heil Hitler salute stand in the installation 'Dance with the Devil' of German artist Ottmar Hoerl at a square in Straubing in southern Germany yesterday.   (AP Photo/Christof Stache)
An assistant to German artist Ottmar Hoerl positions a Nazi gnome in the installation 'Dance with the Devil' on a square in Straubing, Germany.
An assistant to German artist Ottmar Hoerl positions a Nazi gnome in the installation 'Dance with the Devil' on a square in Straubing, Germany.   (AP Photo/Christof Stache)
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