June 26, 2009 / 1:53 PM / 10 years ago

German court upholds ban on words with Nazi link

Exterior view of the German Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe May 24, 2006. REUTERS/Michaela Rehle

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany’s highest court has upheld a ban on three words appearing in sequence because of their link to a former anthem of the Nazi party.

The Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe rejected on Thursday an appeal by a member of a far-right party who was fined 1,750 euros ($2,400) for wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the words “die Fahnen hoch.”

This literally translates as “the flags on high.” The court said the words, which appeared as the final part of an eight-word slogan on the shirt, were too similar to the opening line of the Nazi anthem, the Horst Wessel song.

This opens with “die Fahne hoch,” referring to a single flag. Public displays of Nazi symbols are banned in Germany.

“An observer familiar with the existence and history of the Horst Wessel song will be able to place the short text passage in a broader context,” the court said in a statement.

To ignore this would be to overlook the dangers of a revival in National Socialist tendencies, it said.

The man was originally convicted of the offence in 2007.

Reporting by Jacob Comenetz; editing by Robert Woodward

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