Australia is DeNazifying. Why Can’t Gaza?

by Rafael Medoff at

 Nearly eight decades after the end of World War II, Australia has just outlawed publicly making the Nazi salute or displaying the swastika or the signs of the SS. Attorney General Mark Dreyfus said the laws are necessary to deter Australians from “glorifying” or “celebrating” the “evil ideology” of Nazism. 

    Neo-Nazi groups in Australia have never attracted many members, and their candidates for office have won only a tiny number of votes. Most Australians want to keep it that way. Placing Nazi gestures outside the margins of civilized society is a small step in that direction.

    The salute, known in German as a Hitlergrub (Hitler Greeting), was adopted by the Nazis in the 1920s, along with the accompanying words “Heil Hitler” or “Sieg Heil.” After the Nazis rose to power in 1933, the salute was made compulsory for all government employees in Germany and during the singing of the German national anthem. Failure to give the salute could result in criminal prosecution or worse. Portugal’s consul-general in Hamburg was beaten up by Nazi thugs for failing to salute a march by Hitler supporters. German Jews were prohibited from giving the salute because their use of it would dishonor the gesture. 

    In post-World War II Germany, the Allies outlawed all Nazi symbols, gestures, and activities as part of a “deNazification” strategy. The goal was to eliminate all traces of Nazism from the political and educational systems and from popular culture in order to ensure that Hitler’s followers could never again influence German society.