American tourist gave the Nazi salute in Germany

An American tourist in Germany was beaten up by a passer-by after he began giving the Nazi salute outside a cafe in Dresden, police said Sunday.

The incident occurred around 8:15 a.m. Saturday as the man left a cafe called Europe in the Neustadt district of Dresden, police said in a statement. The district is known to be a liberal part of the town and a popular meeting spot for students.

The tourist was identified only as a 41-year-old American man who was “severely drunk,” according to police. He suffered minor injuries, while the stranger who assailed him fled the scene, police said.

Police said the U.S. national is under investigation for violating German laws prohibiting Nazi symbols and are still seeking the passer-by for causing personal injury, according to the Associated Press.

The Nazi salute — the right arm straight and angled slightly up, palm down — was used as a greeting and a way of expressing devotion to Adolf Hitler under the Third Reich. Germany outlawed the salute after World War II, along with Holocaust denial and other symbols and signals associated with the Nazis. A conviction can carry a prison sentence of up to three years, although courts often impose fines instead.

The Dresden incident occurred just a week after two Chinese tourists were detained for giving Nazi salutes outside Berlin’s Reichstag, once home to the Imperial Diet. The two tourists were fined nearly $600 each but were permitted to leave the country with their tour group, police said. Similarly, a 30-year-old Canadian tourist was detained in 2011 after being photographed giving the Nazi salute outside the Reichstag. He, too, got off with a fine.

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Germany is not the only European country to ban the salute. Earlier this month, Switzerland’s Supreme Court upheld the conviction of a man who appeared in 2013 photos making the Nazi salute outside a Geneva synagogue.

Isaac Stanley-Becker contributed to this report.

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