A waxwork of Adolf Hitler will return to Berlin's new Madame Tussauds as soon as experts have restored the head ripped off by a demonstrator on its opening day, the museum said on Monday.

Just minutes after the museum opened its doors to the public on Saturday, a 41-year-old man scuffled with security guards and leapt over a rope barrier into the dark corner where the dummy of a despondent-looking Hitler was seated. Shouting "No more war!" he proceeded to tear off the head.

The man, arrested but later released under investigation, told Germany's Bild am Sonntag newspaper he was angry about the exhibit; but in the end he carried out the attack to win a bet.

The Hitler waxwork has unleashed a storm of protest in Germany where public displays of Nazi memorabilia or symbols are generally banned.

Critics argue it is tasteless and inappropriate to display a replica of the man who unleashed world war and ordered the extermination of Europe's Jews in a place mainly aimed at light-hearted entertainment.

Some even warn it could attract neo-Nazis who want to pay homage to the Nazi dictator.

But Madame Tussauds defended its decision to show Hitler on Monday and said it would reinstate the 200,000 euro figure once it had been put back together, a process which could take weeks.

"Hitler represents a significant part of the history of Berlin which cannot be denied," the museum said in a statement.

The museum said it respected other people's opinions and had taken great care to portray the dictator in a sensitive manner.

The figure was depicted at a table in a gloomy mock bunker just a few hundred metres from the site of the original bunker.

"We are now considering structural changes to make sure something like this cannot happen again," said a spokesman for the museum. Erecting a reinforced glass or plastic screen to protect Hitler might be one possibility.

The decapitation attracted some praise.

"At last a successful attack on Hitler," said Henryk Broder, a columnist for Der Spiegel.