TV licence fee collector fined for Nazi salute
A woman collecting Germany's GEZ public broadcasting licence fees in Ulm has reportedly been fined after a dispute with a pub owner escalated and she made racist comments and a Nazi salute.
According to regional daily Südwest Presse, the 54-year-old woman had been working on an hourly basis for commission as a fee collector for the GEZ when she entered a Munderkingen tavern in the state of Baden-Württemberg late last year. But her encounter with the pub's Croatian owner quickly turned ugly.
“She told the claimant that he was a fee dodger who should wash himself and go back where he came from,” his lawyer Siegfried Felk read from a statement.
The pub owner, also 54, told the judge in the Ehingen court that he was so surprised that he initially thought he misheard the woman’s statements.
The incident came after the woman and her husband, also a GEZ collector, had been to the establishment one week earlier in search of televisions and radios for which they could charge a fee, the paper said.
He repeatedly told the couple he did not have either item and finally asked them to leave his restaurant. The couple called police, claiming the restaurant owner had acted aggressively, but the officer who responded told the court that according to his estimation, this had not been the case.
When the woman returned a week later in hopes of pinning down another building resident about GEZ fees, she became verbally abusive to the restaurant owner. Several witnesses told the court they then saw her give the Nazi salute several times as she walked away.
Making the gesture is illegal in Germany, and the woman apologised to the court though she claimed not to know exactly what it meant, the paper said.
“You can’t be serious,” Judge Wolfgang Lampa told the woman when she claimed she didn't know how to make the infamous “Heil, Hitler” Nazi salute during court proceedings last Friday.
The Cologne-based GEZ stands for the mouthful Gebühreneinzugszentrale der öffentlich-rechtlichen Rundfunkanstalten in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, or “Fee-collection Centre of Public Broadcasting Institutions in the Federal Republic of Germany.”