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Reviled Swastika shown in flag festival

A Nazi swastika flag will be on public display in Dun Laoghaire for the first time in almost 70 years.

The controversial move to include the flag as part of Bratacha or 'the festival of flags' was made on educational grounds, representatives from the National Maritime Museum of Ireland said.

And they pointed out that the flag is on display alongside those representing other regions of conflict, including Israel, Palestine, North Korea, South Africa, Europe and historical Irish flags.

The swastika – which was the symbol of the Nazi party – was the flag flown in Germany between 1933 and 1945 and also at the German embassy in Ireland.

It became one of the most reviled emblems from 20th-century history in the wake of World War II.

Paul Durkan, chairman of the steering committee of the Bratacha festival, said that it is was part of a much wider exhibition.

"In the Maritime Museum in Dun Laoghaire we are having an exhibition of flags – we will have a story of the mariner flags from the shipping companies but we will also be covering flags of the world," he said.

"This includes those from the Middle East crisis, the North Korea and South Korea war, apartheid in South Africa, the conflict in Ireland and the German situation.

Offensive

"It has never been done before – it is the first time an exhibition of flags of this nature has been done."

"Regarding the story of the German flag – it will detail from the beginning of the 1900s, German imperial flag, right up until present day. That will include the Nazi flag," he added.

He said the inclusion of the memorabilia was because the theme of the exhibition centred around peace.

"We are a museum – we are the National Maritime Museum," Mr Durkan said.

"In that sense – the swastika may be offensive if it is ever flown in a public arena. But in this case it is flown in a museum as part of an exhibition. It is part of history, you can't ignore it.

However, Mr Durkan said that he could understand if there were individuals who were disturbed by the flag's inclusion.

"People may take offence to it but the whole point is that it is educational and to raise the awareness of the history of Germany and the foundations of the European Union."

Vexillologist – flag expert – Stanislav Zamyatin is leading the lectures over May 9, 10 and 11. Full details of the festival are available at www.mariner.ie

clairemurphy@herald.ie


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