The Man Who Decapitated 'Hitler'

German protestor decapitates Fuhrer's look-alike at Madame Tussauds in Berlin.

February 11, 2009, 7:25 PM

PASSAU, Germany, July 7, 2008 — -- "Finally, a Hitler assassination that worked," Henryk Broder, essayist and political journalist for Germany's Spiegel magazine, told ABC News. "Sixty-three years after WW II, Hitler was eventually decapitated."

Broder, also a well-known author, was referring to a man from Berlin-Kreuzberg, identified only as Frank L., who this weekend destroyed an Adolf Hitler wax figure on display at the newly opened Madame Tussauds' branch in Berlin.

The 41-year-old man, who had been patiently standing in line for more than an hour before he was admitted to the exhibition, was only the second visitor on the museum's opening day Saturday.

He allegedly ran toward the Hitler statue, pushed aside a museum security guard and, yelling "never war again, never war again," tore off the figure's head in what appears to be a symbolic protest against Hitler.

Frank L., who was detained and questioned by the Berlin police before he was sent home, is now facing charges for causing damage to property and bodily harm, because he slightly injured a museum guard who tried to stop him.

The damaged wax figure was removed but the exhibition remained open. The wax museum is located on the famous boulevard Unter den Linden, which is close to the Brandenburg Gate.

The figures at the eighth Madame Tussauds branch worldwide were first unveiled to the media Thursday, but the inclusion of Hitler in the exhibition has generated controversy for months here in Germany, where Nazi symbols are banned.

Politicians in Berlin have reportedly called the notorious dictator's waxwork "tasteless beyond comparison" and "a disgrace, tasteless, disgusting and in bad style."

Berlin's Mayor Klaus Wowereit urged the museum's curators to consider carefully whether to include Hitler at all. He asked them to be careful not to show him as a cult figure.

The museum, defending the decision, argued that the Third Reich dictator was an important part of Germany's history.

"The museum has pledged to portray Hitler without glorifying him, showing him as a broken man, as he might have looked in his last days before he committed suicide," Madame Tussauds' spokeswoman Katrin Froemsdorf told reporters in the days leading up to the museum's opening.

The museum produced a likeness of the Nazi leader with deep lines on his forehead, sitting beneath a map of Europe on the wall and positioned behind a desk, which was supposed to prevent visitors from posing with the statue.

Museum officials had been offering assurances that visitors would not be able to touch or photograph or pose with the wax Hitler, which didn't stop Frank L.

Asked for comments, some museum visitors just shrugged their shoulders, while others expressed their regret at the statue's destruction.

"He belongs to history. He has a place here, I think," one visitor told The Associated Press. "Tearing off his head is not the right way to deal with history."

Another visitor said, "Hitler is a person who belongs to the history of Germany. After such a long time, we as Germans should be mature enough to accept it and live with that history."

Berlin's secretary of state for cultural affairs, Andre Schmitz, told ABC News in a telephone interview, "I find it tasteless to show the Nazi dictator's statue, in the first place, but nevertheless it is an act of vandalism, which must be prosecuted."

He added, "Having said that, I would not mind if we never saw the statue on display again but that, of course, is not up to me. I don't have a say in this."

Meanwhile, Froemsdorf confirmed to ABC News that "the damaged figure is going to be repaired and will be on display again as soon as possible."

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