A Belgian homeowner faces up to year in prison after festooning his home with Nazi insignia and his garden with Hitler scarecrows giving the stiff-armed Third Reich salute.
Georges Boeckstaens, 76, a former corporal in the Belgian Army, is unrepentant about his property, which is called the “Nazi house” in the small Flemish village of Keerbergen.
“I am not hurting anyone, I have no criminal record. If they want to lock me up, let them,” Mr Boeckstaens said outside the home, which displays swastikas and SS symbols.
He will appear before judges, defending himself against charges based on a Belgian law forbidding holocaust denial or praise of Nazi conduct in the Second World War, on November 19 in the nearby city of Leuven. He could be sentenced to up to 12 months and fined.
The Nazi house, with SS symbols on the chimney and skull above the word Hitler on the drainpipe, has been an unmissable feature of the village in Flanders since 2015.
City authorities had said they could not intervene as the Nazi House is private property. Mr Boeckstaens, who calls his home “the Eagle’s Nest” after Hitler’s wartime lair, was able to indulge his obsession with impunity until a complaint was finally made to the local public prosecutor.
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The Belgian league against anti-Semitism and Unia, the Belgian equal opportunities agency, is also involved in the case. It was brought after he displayed anti-Semitic symbols, such as the Yellow Star, which were clearly visible from the public road outside Mr Boeckstaens’ home.
The Third Reich theme continues inside the house, which has a Swastika flag on the wall and a copy of Mein Kampf.
Mr Boeckstaens, who wore military garb when interviewed by Belgian television, was advised by the police to make a gesture of appeasement before the court case.
He took down many of the flags and symbols and draped a scarecrows guarding his front door in chains and a black hoodie to hide its Hitler-style moustache.
There was a surge in support for the Flemish far right in May’s elections in Belgium. France, Germany and Austria all have similar laws banning the display of Nazi symbols.