• Germany's news in English

Bavarian police union prints racist calendar

Published: 29 Feb 2012 13:59 GMT+01:00

One cartoon shows a black man drawn with a flat head, exaggerated musculature and big red lips literally spitting as he is held in a police station by a slim blonde officer and shouts at another white officer.

The dark-skinned arrestee is asking: “What’s the danger of suppressing evidence here?” The supposed joke is a play on the German word for evidence suppression which is Verdunkelungsgefahr - or the danger of darkening something.

The calendar has presumably been hanging on police station walls for at least eight weeks – and on Thursday cops across Bavaria would have turned the page to March to find that offensive cartoon.

They have already had a month of looking at grotesque caricatures of two middle-Eastern with massive hooked noses, and another black man with huge red lips, representing the three wise men. They are being told by another normal looking pair of white Bavarian police officers that they must pick up the droppings of their camels. The black man is already on his knees doing so.

“The rules on green areas also apply for wise men from the East,” one of the cops is saying in the cartoon for January.

Wilhelm Schmidbauer, president of Munich’s police force has told his officers to remove the calendar, a spokesman told Die Welt daily paper. He is being joined by other police force heads across Bavaria in banning the calendar.

“It is about caricatures which could be misunderstood,” the spokesman said. “They are not allowed to be displayed in our stations any more in order to give out an unmistakable signal.”

The cartoons reflect a spirit which “is not compatible with the self-image of the Munich police,” Schmidbauer told Bavarian Radio.

But the Bavarian state division of the German Police Union (DPolG) has defended the calendar, 3,000 copies of which it published.

“For me the whole thing is impossible to understand,” said Hermann Benker, chairman of the union’s Bavaria division. “They are acting as if this police jargon does not exist.” The cartoons only poke fun at police jargon he said. “There is nothing behind it,” he insisted.

Other cartoons include one where a policeman is calling up to man threatening to kill himself, “Jump now finally you idiot, I have other things to do today.”

September’s picture shows a hearse having crashed into a car and the coffin having slid out of the back onto the road. One officer agrees with another when he suggests that it should count as a road traffic fatality for the statistics.

Benker said the calendar was only now being removed because the media had reported on it. “Until now it has not upset anyone,” he said.

He said he refused to be labelled a racist. He said one reason for arresting people was Verdunklungsgefahr, while the phrase “travelling black” was used for those without tickets, and Blindenpassagieren “blind passengers” for stowaways.

The Local/hc

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

14:46 February 29, 2012 by grahame-s
This article has to be a spoof, doesn't it? Surely this can't really have happened in Europe in 2012? I know that KKK is a common abbreviation in DE but I always thought it meant something else ...
15:10 February 29, 2012 by ATM
If this is not racist why do the calendars depict caricatures of people of color and other ethnic groups. This is not only in poor taste. If the Polizei leadership do not get then replace them.
15:28 February 29, 2012 by catjones
The nazi's did the similar slur against the hook-nosed jews.
15:49 February 29, 2012 by minga
I think the cartoonist was inspired by Herge.
15:52 February 29, 2012 by Terrence Wentworth
I'm a Middle Eastern-looking male who was once pulled over in central Munich for running a red light on my bike--at 2 in the morning on a weeknight. Not the most traumatic incident in the world, but this article makes me think there's a pervasive culture of racism in the Bavarian police and that the cops might have let it slide if I were white.

It's sad to see such a limited reaction to this in Germany. There probably would have been a righteous storm of firings had this happened anywhere in the U.S. I think the right response is somewhere in between. Meanwhile, it's too bad Benker gets away with such a disingenuous brush-off...
15:59 February 29, 2012 by minga
@Terrence Wentworth

I agree that the Bavarian police needs more lessonson political correctness. But your bike incident can happen to anyone. My German colleague was pulled over for jumping a red light on his bike, made to do an alchohol test, fined and got 2 points added on his driving license.
16:01 February 29, 2012 by romber58
Have any black people complained?

No,as far as I can tell.

The jokes were plays on words and it is so pathetic that journalists PRETEND to be offended on someone elses behalf.

And exactly so....where are these moral uprisings about the word"Schwartzfahren?

Hypocrites/Hypocritics one and all

P.S i never dreamed i would write something in defence of the Bayerischen Bullen.

16:02 February 29, 2012 by Johnne
@Terrence Wentworth

Benker won´t get away. Time is up for those stupid empty headed weak minded racist that call themselves the Bayrische Polizei. And infact the whole of the German Polizei are just messed up swimming in stupidity, prejudice and racism. Those loosers can´t catch no criminals! all they know how to do is to control "foreign looking" citizens and assylum seekers. You just need to watch Aktenzeichen XY Ungelöst to understand what I´m saying. They can´t solve no crime...they can only print rubbish and bully people around with their on-top- nothing arrogance.
17:00 February 29, 2012 by Terrence Wentworth

You might be right that anyone could be pulled over the same way I was. But the calendar story definitely compromises Bavarian cops' claims to impartiality in dealing with minorities.

Also, not to be overly dramatic, but this doesn't strike me as an issue of mere political correctness. It's more about basic dignity. To think that not just a fringe but a mainstream section of the police establishment views some of Germany's most disadvantaged people like this!
17:15 February 29, 2012 by MaKo
¦quot;It is about caricatures which could be misunderstood"

Mr. Schmidbauer, I think the caricatures have been understood perfectly well, hence the controversy.

Homogeneity is a dangerous thing. Generally speaking, the Bavarian police force is well-trained. It seems like they need to add a few courses to the regimen. This is unacceptable to me, a foreigner. I hope it will prove unacceptable to the Bavarian "Einheimischen" at large as well.
17:22 February 29, 2012 by TheCrownPrince
It's rather clumsiness and naivety than mean ill. Things like this demonstrate that some parts of Germany are (still) quite provincial, especially in more rural areas. It further shows that Germany is no real "immigration country" (yet) like the USA, where such things probably would not happen due to the sensibility of a mixed population. Thus it is small wonder that some Germans don't even know where the problem is here. Add to this the tendency to make fun of minorities in general, and you have your calendar.
17:48 February 29, 2012 by twisted
This sort of thing doesn't really surprise me. It helps explains how Neo-Nazi killers avoided being discovered and arrested for so long....the police weren't really interested and their colleagues in the "protection of the constitution" force protected them. So how can anyone be surprised by these calenders being issued by the police union. Very unfortunate, very unprofessional and very racist.
17:50 February 29, 2012 by acserv
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
17:58 February 29, 2012 by Cnd/Deu
I seldom comment..but in this case I will.


There is supposed to be a comma between ¦#39;empty headed and weak minded¦#39; and it is spelled ¦#39;empty-headed¦#39;.

¦#39;Infact¦#39; is two words ¦#39;in fact¦#39;.

¦#39;Loosers¦#39; is spelled ¦#39;Losers¦#39;.

¦#39;Can¦#39;t catch no criminals¦#39;? ¦#39;Can¦#39;t solve no crime¦#39;? ¦#39;on-top- nothing arrogance¦#39;?

Your grammar tells everyone exactly what your IQ is not and I suspect what your heritage might be.

But most of all your use of the English language, with your evident anger, clearly suggests any previous police interaction in Germany you may have had was not vintage.

The article is unfortunate and should be addressed and delt with by the authorities in Germany as it should be.

The article is also not representative of German police in general who are professional and respected world wide.

I can say this because I am a police officer in Canada and my cousin is with GSG9 out of Hanover.
18:53 February 29, 2012 by romber58

Ok Mr. Teacher,

First of all,how do you spell "dealt" again?

Look it up in the dictionary.

Where are the commas you sorely missed in Johanne,s comment in your sentence...".exactly what your IQ is not and,(comma) I suspect(comma) what your heritage might be."

How can an article be unfortunate and thus be delt(sic) with by the authorities in Germany.?.Presumably by the Ministry of article policing.

And yes,you are right,

The article is not representative of German police.

How could it be,it is just an article composed of words.

And the reason you can write all your mangeled english is because you are a cop in Canada and your cousin a cop in Germany?

"you ;aving a laff"? ,
19:17 February 29, 2012 by Englishted
I agree this must be removed as it is racist.

However I would ask the Local why they keep removing complete comment sections of articles ,for example" Nazi salutes aimed at Israeli footballer" the one about a submarine ,and the one about re-offending and religion .

You are starting to use a heavy censorship hammer to crack a few nuts.
22:20 February 29, 2012 by ovalle3.14
So if you draw black people being arrested it's racism. You can only depict foreigners in good light.

Man, we're losing even our ability to laugh.
22:23 February 29, 2012 by peter douglas
As a foreigner living in Berlin and travelled across this country i tend to find the notion that easterners are more racist than westerners quite distorted infact the echolons of the 3rd reich and the remnands of the nazi regime ended up slithering into society and carrying on their conservertism in the west,because of the different economic well being of the two Germans it was always the weaker one that has always born the brunt of negativity,in my opinion its as racist in the west as in the east, for Germany is a racist society.the calendar was hanging in offices for over 8 months but nobody gave a damm because im sure before thousands of them were printed their must have been a first certified copy that had to be approved,and no one raised an objection over the racist content.shopkeepers can be shot dead so long as they don,t have aryan features then it must be some criminal deal gone sour.law enforcement agents are the worst if it comes to race issues hope they,ll wake up after the zwickauer murdering trio saga.
22:26 February 29, 2012 by mikel taylor
Where can I get one of these calenders, looks like good ole redneck humor.

Now you want to hang that calender where no one will complain just send one down here to the hill country of Texas, this place is mostly German and I'm sure they would love it.

In San Antonio and sitting by the mail box waiting
22:50 February 29, 2012 by moccasynth
A lot of clowns on this comment thread, definitely. There are actual funny things to be observed in life, this isn't one of them and the police should know better. As a Scot I often despair at the image of the Scot as a money saving creature in Germany. I wonder of they replaced the word "Scot" with "Jew" if it would still be ok for Karstadt to display the "cheap lunch" posters they had up last year......Shop wie ein Juden somehow has a more sinister ring than the actual posters, oder?
23:17 February 29, 2012 by MaKo
Ahem, fellow Localites, if we are to criticize spelling shortcomings in others, perhaps we ought to reconsider that "Schwartzfahrer."

May the schwartz be with you!
23:45 February 29, 2012 by Illogicbuster
Go into any Metro PD station in any major US city and the scene on that calendar gets played out multiple times each day. Just reality... Some people can't handle reality though.
02:18 March 1, 2012 by sirloin869
black people don't know those cirilic fake languages, silly...

THIS is the EVIL of getting JAMMERED(using vodka-soaked tampoons)/CREWTCHIE(crunk + cootchie): almost feel sorry - that is kind of funny...

still waiting on the zombie apokolypse
04:34 March 1, 2012 by The-ex-pat
15:52 February 29, 2012 by Terrence Wentworth

I'm a Middle Eastern-looking male who was once pulled over in central Munich for running a red light on my bike--at 2 in the morning on a weeknight. Not the most traumatic incident in the world, but this article makes me think there's a pervasive culture of racism in the Bavarian police and that the cops might have let it slide if I were white.

Two things come to mind. Firstly, what has being stopped for a self confessed traffic offense got to do with racism and secondly, the actions of a typical cyclist here in Germany, road traffic regulations are only for cars!
08:00 March 1, 2012 by mos101392
@Terrence Wentworth

Don't you know this is typical of Bavaria? Every non Bavarian German says the same about Bavaria and that they are more right than the rest of the country.

I was accused of running a red light and fined 68 Euros. I called the office that sent the traffic violation and told them I didn't do it and the polizei was mistaken and to show me the proof like a photo. No photo and eventually I received a signed letter from a judge dismissing the case. What I should do is take them to court for setting up their "sting" operation in front of an American Base.... Reminds me of fisherman throwing their nets in the sea and catching as many fish as they can before the Amis leave.
09:22 March 1, 2012 by cassandra777
"I have found much beauty in the hoarse oaths that kept our courage straight"

This is what the sainted English poet Wilfred Owen wrote about cursing and obscenities of his mates in the trenches of Flanders in World War I.

Police work is full of tension and the potential of aggression is always there. (Witness the death of Mathias Vieth in Augsburg in October.) These people protect YOU with their lives on the line every day. Cut them a little slack if they "keep their courage straight" with a bit of crude humor.
11:33 March 1, 2012 by raandy
The calendar with ethic people portrayed in this manner has no place any where,especially at the police station. Hello,,, what moran spent the unions or taxpayers money on this insensitive pin-up. Hopefully they will be required to pay for the next calendars out of pocket. Shameful to say the least.

Yes, The Local seems to censor what they think is in poor taste but the point of posting is to state your opinion and read others, I for one think they are way to quick to pull the post. If there was an alternative to this average to below news outlet I would dump this site like a bad habit.
11:55 March 1, 2012 by michael4096
Generally, I suspect more a lack of sensitivity than outright racism. Here is the Matt cartoon from the Telegraph this morning joking about the lack of sensitivity in Britain concening the way some address old people...


Every year, I, like all employees at my company, must go through AGG training and pass a test at the end. It explains that (1) posters and banter are not allowed in any German workplace if they are likely to offend - this includes pin-ups and sexual innuendo as well as racial material; (2) management MUST deal with complaints seriously and can fire people as a result; and, (3) failure to can result in managers being imprisoned. It is interesting that this was in police stations.

The definition of what can be considered sensitive certainly changes over time and people are far more aware of sensitivity today. However, I wonder how many of those 'outraged' by this incident were also screaming about freedom of expression when the Mohammed caricatures were criticised.

@Englishted - The Local pulls the comments once a fire storm starts. Probably because they have some responsibility when people get offended...
13:26 March 1, 2012 by LiberalGuy


if you just want news
13:54 March 1, 2012 by Englishted

Then censor the comment not the section .

Freedom was hard fought for .
16:02 March 1, 2012 by Johnne
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
17:11 March 1, 2012 by mikel taylor
I would love to have one of the calenders,

I would be willing to trade my autographed copy of the Profit Mohammad in drag wearing high heel and nylons having his way with a burqa wearing camel.

It isn't about skin color it's about behavior, act like a civilized human and you'll be treated the same
17:35 March 1, 2012 by michael4096
@Englishted - I think they try but as "Many German Muslims..." shows, they don't always succeed
21:10 March 1, 2012 by kenia-berlin-blog
Iam an african and not suprised,Why are you?,ten people of Turkish descent were murdered here by Nazis,The police and the German press babtized the racial murders and called them" Döner Mord,its like killing Italians and calling them victms" Pizza Murder".Every year young children visit the Germany president dressed like the wise kings,Instead of taking a black Germany child,the organisers paint a White Blond child black!
23:45 March 1, 2012 by Jeff10
This is much ado about nothing. So, what? Lighten up, people. Learn to laugh at yourselves.

@ Mos, 101932:

Once, I was walking in an area of NYC that's not frequented by people of my race, unless they are seeking to buy a certain product or service. So, a NYPD cruiser slowed up as I was walking and the one of the officers leaned out of his opened passenger-side window and asked me where I was headed. I told him I was going to meet my brother (who worked at place on 11th Avenue in Manhattan). He laughed and said, "Oh, sure, your brother lives here."

I replied that my brother works in this area. They didn't believe me, because they followed me until I reached my brother's place of employment.

I wasn't offended, because this shows that profiling is necessary tool for use by law enforcement, especially for the initial moment when an officer has to decide if there's more to pursue. So, maybe they stopped you for a reason other than running a red light at 2 a.m. on a week night. Gosh, fella, did you stop to think that it's a bit unusual to be out and about on a bike at 2 a.m. on a weekday?
08:11 March 2, 2012 by Yah right
Stupid and tasteless and without intelligence.

What is this police union thinking?????

That is just the issue......they do not think!
13:35 March 2, 2012 by christopheuk25
Wish the UK cops were like this,where can i get the poster,/Brilliant
17:30 March 2, 2012 by Runnerguy45
Ironic that this is front page news when at this very moment Whites are being murdered robbed and raped in certain African nations while the world ignores.

Its ok if Whites are victims but god help you if you joke about a person of color.
20:15 March 2, 2012 by Englishted

So they closed it down that is the third one this month (February) last month.

Then censor the comment not the section .
16:45 March 4, 2012 by rumj
The Germans still have the NAZI mentality , They should know that their racial atrocities killed millions of men women and children. So we are not surprised by the actions of the Bavarian Police
16:36 March 29, 2012 by chicagolive
@ Runnerguy45 I hate any body being a victim of crime.......but white people for all the death and destruction ya'll have brought to the world we will make a exception oh and by the way before whites All of Africa was pretty peaceful like most places when they showed up with there God, disease, and whim for stealing resources everything went to hell in a hand basket. The Africans, the Aztecs, Native Americans, and half of Asia can be witnesses to all that.
Today's headlines
Spectator killed in Nürburgring crash
A section of the Nürburgring's north circuit

Spectator killed in Nürburgring crash

A man has been killed and several others injured in an accident at Germany's Nürburgring racetrack. READ  

Alps Plane Crash
Germany to hold April service for crash victims
Photo: DPA

Germany to hold April service for crash victims

Germany will hold a national memorial ceremony and service on April 17 for victims of the Germanwings flight that crashed in the French Alps, killing all 150 aboard, regional authorities said on Saturday. READ  

Scientists aiming to redefine the kilogram
The world's roundest sphere. Photo: DPA

Scientists aiming to redefine the kilogram

The German Nation Metrology Institute (PTB) in Braunschweig has set itself the enormous task of finding a new formula for measuring a kilogram. READ  

Alps Plane Crash
Germanwings co-pilot 'hid illness' on crash day
Photo: DPA

Germanwings co-pilot 'hid illness' on crash day

Germanwings said on Friday that it had no knowledge of a doctor-signed sick note found by investigators at flight 4U9525 co-pilot Andreas Lubitz's flat. READ  

Varoufakis quells rumours of resignation
Yanis Varoufakis. Photo: DPA

Varoufakis quells rumours of resignation

Update: After German tabloid Bild reported that Germany's least-favourite Greek minister Yanis Varoufakis was considering resigning, the minister rejected the story on Twitter. READ  

Germany to expand disability rights
Photo: DPA

Germany to expand disability rights

A representative of the German Labour Ministry went before a UN Committee on Friday to discuss the government's plan for improved rights for disabled people. READ  

Alps Plane Crash
Germanwings captain's compassion goes viral
Photo: DPA

Germanwings captain's compassion goes viral

A Facebook post describing how a Germanwings pilot personally reassured his passengers of their safety on a flight on Wednesday has received over quarter of a million likes. READ  

Bundestag passes 'foreigner toll' for roads
Photo: DPA

Bundestag passes 'foreigner toll' for roads

The Bundestag (German parliament) passed a hugely controversial law on Friday which will charge foreigners for the use of German roads. READ  

Alps Plane Crash
Airlines agree two-person cockpit rule
Photo: DPA

Airlines agree two-person cockpit rule

The Federation of the German Air Travel Industry (BDL) confirmed on Friday afternoon that from now on two people must be in the cockpit at all times, in a bid to avoid a repeat of the Germanwings disaster. READ  

Germany urgently needs immigrants: study
Spanish immigrants in Germany. Photo: DPA

Germany urgently needs immigrants: study

A study by the Bertelsmann Institute found on Friday that Germany will need around half a million new immigrants every year until 2050 to maintain its work force. READ  

Can the 'nightmare' of a pilot downing a plane be prevented?
LIVE: Co-pilot suspected of crashing plane
Pupils mourn lost classmates
Freed after 25 years on death row
Cologne Cathedral returns from space
Sponsored Article
What expat parents should ask before choosing a school
Paddy's Day, Berlin style
Is your workload 'out of control'? You're not alone...
Why east Germans are happy to get it on on camera
What would you do with a 250-year-old pretzel?
Just why is the German flag Schwarz, Rot, Gold?
Business & Money
Getting German workers and bosses thinking positive
Uplifting thoughts to get you through the last week of winter
Who wants the Olympics more - Hamburg or Berlin?
Last-minute drama of Germany's Eurovision 2015 entry
German photographer takes world's top prize
Meet the woman getting Germans to drink more – and better – beer
Get inspired for International Women's Day with German heroes
Sponsored Article
Expert US tax preparation for Americans in Germany
Green party proposes first-ever cannabis legalization plan
In pictures: Germany's seven most livable cities
Singapore canes Germans for train graffiti
Surprise! Germans love feeling like they run the EU
Anger over plan to show women what men earn
Munich tram fans bicker over new bell
Kafka: puzzling translators 100 years on
Business & Money
France or Germany: Which country really is the best country to work in?
Photo: Police
Student driver crashes tank into family garden.
Photo: DPA
There was a notable absence at the Anti-Semitism Commission
How Dresden bombing still divides Germany, 70 years on
Photo: DPA
Take a cute break with this gallery of baby animals
What's keeping UK expats from voting?
Photo: DPA
Terror alert at a new high. Should you be worried?
The best regional foods TTIP opponents want to protect
Photo: DPA
All you ever needed to know about Pegida
Photo: Shutterstock
This cosplayer did not think his plan through
Europe in statistics - from Spain to Sweden
Top 12 German idioms
10 top tips for partying in Germany
Photo: DPA
What does the Chancellor see as the future of the internet?
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd