Artist has no case to answer with his Nazi-saluting garden gnome

By Calvin Palmer

A German artist who created a golden garden gnome with its arm raised in a Nazi salute will not be prosecuted.

The public prosecutor’s office in Nuremberg announced today that it was not pursuing an investigation into 59-year-old artist Ottmar Hörl and the gallery showing his work.

Nazi symbolism is banned in Germany but after interviewing Hörl and gallery owner Erwin Weigl, 67, the authorities concluded that the purpose of the sculpture was to make Nazis look ridiculous and were satisfied neither of them had used Nazi symbols in the past.

When complaints about the gnome first surfaced, after it was displayed in a gallery window in Nuremberg, Hörl protested that the work was meant as a satire.

He made it clear he first designed the Nazi-saluting gnome for an exhibition in Belgium against right-wing extremism.

“Portraying the German master race as garden gnomes was an ironic gesture,” he said.

Gallery owner Weigl confirmed that he had assumed he was selling a piece of work that was attacking right-wing extremism.

[Based on a report by Der Spiegel.]

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