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Salutes and Nazi symbols have been illegal in Germany since the Second World War but investigators may decide the figure is in fact ridiculing the Third Reich. Wolfgang Traeg, a spokesman for the public prosecutors office, said: “The investigation is ongoing and people are being interviewed.

“It is also a question of art a bit,” he said. “It will also depend on what the artist and the owners of the gallery have to say for themselves about the whole thing.”

The gnome was produced by German-born Ottmar Hoerl, the president of the Academy for Fine Arts in Nuremberg.

nazi-gnomes_1134291cClick.

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