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Gravestones found in Graz with Nazi symbols

Nazi symbols found on gravestones

Gravestones marked with Nazi symbols, including the swastika, have been found in a graveyard in Graz, just days ahead of the Holocaust Memorial Day.

Austria has had a country wide ban on showing Nazi symbols since 1947, with anyone displaying them facing criminal charges and possible jail terms. As well as a swastika, the headstone is inscribed with the words "He died in the struggle for a Great Germany". A nearby gravestone also shows the SS lightning bolt symbol.

Although officials are aware of the markings on the gravestone, it's not clear whether they have not been removed because it is not possible to or because local authorities are reluctant to.

A spokesman for the mayor's office acknowledged they were uncomfortable with the swastika, although highlighted that it is also an old symbol that stands for the sun in the English world.

However, the gravestone might not be breaking any laws if it turns out it was put up before came into affect in 1947 as the law cannot be applied retrospectively, according  to Graz prosecutor Hand-Joerg Bacher.

Church officials have avoided committing themselves to doing anything about the symbol, arguing it has historic value.

Opinions over how to deal with displaying Nazi symbols differ with some German politicians calling for a continent wide ban whilst critics arguing that this equates to brushing evidence of Nazi history and crime under the carpet.

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