A German far-right local politician was given a suspended sentence Tuesday over a tattoo bearing a notorious Nazi concentration camp slogan and a rendering of Auschwitz.
Marcel Zech, a 27-year-old town council member of the National Democratic Party (NPD) in a town just north of Berlin, faced up to five years jail for inciting racial hatred.
Prosecutor Wilfried Lehmann called the sentence too lenient.
“We requested 10 months in prison and the court sentenced him to a six-month suspended sentence,” Lehmann said after the hearing. “Hence we are considering an appeal.”
Zech’s tattoo was photographed in November when he took his shirt off at a public swimming pool in Oranienburg, in the eastern state of Brandenburg which surrounds the capital.
It features the German words “Jedem das Seine” (To Each His Own) — the message at the front gate of the Buchenwald concentration camp — and a picture of the former Auschwitz death camp in occupied Poland with barbed wire fences.
Oranienburg is the site of Sachsenhausen, a Nazi concentration camp, where tens of thousands of prisoners died.
Zech’s display of the tattoo, which following the trial he may keep but must hide in public, raised questions in Germany whether it represented a new brazenness on the part of the far-right as the country faces a record refugee influx.
The reporter who took his picture and posted it on Facebook said on social media that no one at the pool complained when Zech removed his shirt.
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government has labelled Zech’s fringe party the NPD, which is most popular in the formerly communist east Germany, “an anti-democratic, xenophobic, anti-Semitic, anti-constitutional party”.
The country’s highest court is set to hear a case to ban the NPD in March.
The NPD scored just over one percent in 2013 national elections and has never entered the national parliament but is represented in the legislatures of two eastern states and some town councils.