Army of Nazi gnomes invade Germany

By Jessica Elgot, October 15, 2009

The German town of Straubing is hosting 1,250 black garden gnomes, who are raising their right arms in a Hitler salute.

The 15-inch gnomes, who are part of an artwork called Dance with the Devil by Professor Ottmar Hoerl, are displayed in a military formation in the town centre.

The town in Lower Bavaria was chosen because of its Nazi connections. The square where the gnomes are displayed hosted Nazi parades. The town’s 42 Jews were all sent to concentration camps.

Professor Ottmar Hoerl, of the Nuremberg Academy of Fine Arts, has been locked in a legal battle to display the gnomes. Making the “Heil Hitler” salute is illegal in Germany, but Professor Hoerl argued the gnomes were clearly satire.

He said: “in 1942 it would have been the Nazis massacring me because of this piece of art. I am presenting the master race as garden gnomes and that falls into any sensible definition of satire.”

He added: “I want to shock and provoke people into thinking about these things.”

Last updated: 4:54pm, October 15 2009