German anger as dignitary accused of performing ‘Nazi’ salute at opening ceremony
Germans have leapt to the defence of Walther Tröger, an honorary member of the International Olympic Committee, after it was suggested he gave a ‘Nazi’ salute at the London 2012 opening ceremony.
As his team paraded around the stadium Mr Tröger was caught on video repeatedly extending his left arm back and forth prompting a few awkward stares from members of the crowd.
However it has been pointed out that the salute used by Hitler in the 1940s traditionally uses the right arm.
“Even if it is "only" was the left arm - a touch of involuntary Berlin '36 was in the London opening ceremony air,” reported Der Tagesspiegel newspaper. "The greeting of yesterday was brought back to the present."
Mr Tröger has a record of trying to help Germany recover from its dark history.
He was mayor of Munich Olympic village in 1972 and offered himself in exchange for Israeli hostages during the Black September terrorist attack.
In 2004 he complained to an IOC meeting about Germans wearing t-shirts reading: "Blitzkrieg - it's only a game."
Christian Klaue, a spokesman for the German Olympic Sports Federation, said: "It's infamous, disgusting and unacceptable to create any kind of relation to Nazis. He's been standing all his life for tolerance, understanding and fair play."
Mark Adams, a spokesman for the IOC, said: "I can't think of anyone who is less antisemitic than him. He is devastated that it was interpreted in this way."
German commentators on Twitter begged the world not to get the wrong impression and think back to the 1936 Olympics hosted by Nazi Germany.
“The Walter Tröger is a different wave PLEASE PLEASE. It's 2012, not '36 …,” one wrote.
Footage shows Boris Johnson and Camilla Parker-Bowles, who were sitting nearby, in a fit of giggles.
But again commentators pointed out this may have had more to do with the German team’s choice of shiny pink and blue anoraks teamed with a jaunty Alpine straw hat.