German prosecutors drop probe into swastika buttons

dpa German Press Agency
Published: Thursday October 19, 2006

Ratingen, Germany- Prosecutors on Thursday dropped investigations into German fashion concern Esprit whose catalogue contained photos of buttons with a design that resembled a swastika. The company was forced to recall 200,000 catalogues after prosecutors, acting on a complaint, announced they were investigating Esprit for displaying insignia of a banned organization.

Esprit said the leather buttons were made in England and hade been used for many years by different fashion concerns without anyone raising objections.

Its catalogue was produced in London and approved by affiliates in several different countries who did not notice a swastika resemblance, the company said.

A spokesman for the prosecutors office in Dusseldorf said the company's explanation was credible. The design on the buttons differed according to production and lighting conditions, he said.

The swastika and other insignia associated with the Nazis is outlawed in Germany.

Last month a court in Stuttgart fined a 32-year-old man more than 7,000 euros (8,700 dollars) for selling anti-Nazi badges that showed a swastika with a line through it, as in a traffic sign.

© 2006 dpa German Press Agency