German police launch probe into Nazi salutes at Oktoberfest

German police launch probe into Nazi salutes at Oktoberfest

Four people were caught on film making the banned gesture at a beer festival in the state of Saxony

German police and the state security service (BfV) have launched an investigation into Nazi salutes seen in video footage taken at a recent Oktoberfest celebration in the state of Saxony, according to media reports on Monday.

A video that initially surfaced on social media shows three men and a woman dressed in traditional Bavarian attire repeatedly making Nazi salutes while in an Oktoberfest tent. According to the Bild tabloid, one of the men made the gesture as many as 14 times over just 16 seconds.

The incident took place during festivities in a small village in the state of Saxony in eastern Germany, the media reports said. Oktoberfest, the world’s largest beer festival, originated in Bavaria in the 19th century but is now celebrated in other parts of Germany as well.

A Nazi-era military march called ‘Erika’, which was used by the Third Reich for propaganda purposes, can be heard playing in the background on the footage. The music itself is not banned in Germany. The video has since gone viral on X (formerly Twitter) and has drawn the attention of the German police.

A regional police office stated on Monday that it had “secured” the footage and handed it over to the relevant department. The statement also said that it would have been better if officers had been called directly to the scene, adding that dealing with the issue afterwards “results in unnecessary delays.”

Under the German Criminal Code, the “use of symbols of unconstitutional organizations,” which includes the Nazi salute, is punishable by up to three years behind bars or a fine. The identities of the suspects have not been officially revealed.

A spokesman for the Saxony police, Marcel Malchow, told Bild on Monday that the BfV, which is responsible for investigating cases related to extremist and terrorist activities, would be involved in the probe as well.

The organizers of the event in Saxony insisted they had nothing to do with the incident. “We clearly distance ourselves from such visitors, we just want to celebrate Oktoberfest as normal,” one of them, Matthias Braune, told Bild. He did not comment on the organizers’ choice of music for the event.

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