May 20, 2008 / 2:36 PM / 10 years ago

German fire team says sorry over Hitler quote

BERLIN (Reuters) - A youth team of firefighters in Germany has got into hot water after entering a contest with a famous quote by Adolf Hitler emblazoned on its T-shirts.

Spectators at a weekend fire-fighting competition near Cottbus were shocked to see a team from the eastern city in a set of blue shirts that proclaimed Hitler’s description of the ideal German youth, authorities said on Tuesday.

“Flink wie die Windhunde, Zaeh wie Leder, Hart wie Kruppstahl” (Swift as greyhounds, tough as leather, hard as Krupp steel) ran in white gothic script across the backs of the eight-strong group from the Gross Gaglow area of Cottbus.

The Nazi dictator used the words, which make reference to the Krupp steelworks, in an oft-quoted address to the Hitler Youth that outlined how its members should be. Public displays of Nazi symbols such as swastikas are illegal in Germany.

The incident has revived concerns that parts of the formerly communist east lack sufficient awareness about the Nazi era, rendering it more susceptible to extreme-right propaganda.

Cottbus city council spokesman Peter Lewandrowski said the team had apologized for the T-shirts and handed them in.

Since 2004, far-right parties have won representation in three of the six state parliaments in eastern Germany.

Reporting by Dave Graham; Editing by David Fogarty

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