German media: Finnish tourists give Nazi salute at concentration camp memorial

Making the Nazi or Heil Hitler salute is an offence in modern-day Germany, punishable by up to three years in prison.

The memorial site at Dachau concentration camp. Image: EPA/LUKAS BARTH-TUTTAS

Two Finnish tourists made Nazi salutes at a memorial site to the Dachau concentration camp in the Bavaria region of southern Germany on Sunday, according to reports by German media, including the nation's largest news site Der Spiegel (siirryt toiseen palveluun), as well as the news agency DPA.

The Nazi salute, Hitler salute or Sieg Heil salute was a greeting used during the 1930s and 1940s and performed by extending the right arm into the air with a straightened hand. It is illegal in modern-day Germany and considered an offence punishable by up to three years in prison.

German police told local media that two Finnish men, aged 50 and 52 years old, had photographed each other making the salute in front of the memorial site's visitor centre. A third man in their party also took photos of the incident, police added, before eyewitnesses reported to the police.

A police spokesperson told the media that the Finnish men admitted making the salute but meant it as a "joke". The tourists were believed to have been under the influence of alcohol at the time, the spokesperson added further.

The Finnish men also said they were unaware that making the salute was a punishable offence in Germany.

"But maybe they could have got the idea that this is not welcome in Germany," the police spokesperson told the media, adding that criminal proceedings have been initiated in the case.

All three men involved have been given lifetime bans from the memorial site.