Swiss politician Oskar Freysinger’s display of a German Reich war flag in his cellar is “problematic”, according to Martine Brunschwig Graf, president of the Federal Commission Against Racism. The flag should be taken down, she said.
“The flag is problematic because it is a symbol used by Neonazis,” Graf said on Thursday in an interview on the public radio programme “HeuteMorgen”.
The existence of the flag in Freysinger’s downstairs office was publicised in an interview at his home aired on March 24 on the television programme “Reporter”.
During the interview, Freysinger, a member of the rightwing Swiss People’s Party who has served in the House of Representatives since 2003, called attention to the flag hanging on the ceiling, saying he had bought it because he found it attractive.
The flag, which is red, black and white and features an Iron Cross and a decorative black eagle of Prussia, is one of seven different flags used by the German armed forces between 1867 and 1945. German nationalists, including the Nazis, later used the old flag in protest against the Weimar Republic during the 1920s and 1930s.
According to Swiss law, possession and display of the flag are not forbidden. But Brunschwig Graf believes that doing so is not appropriate for Freysinger, who was elected to serve in the cantonal government of Valais on March 17.
“For me, it’s important that he has an appreciation of the fact that when someone is elected to a cantonal government, he has a different sort of responsibility, and you have to learn that,” she said.
Freysinger disagreed, saying that how he chooses to decorate his cellar is a personal matter.
The Commission has no power to require Freysinger to remove the flag, as it is only an advisory board.