Officers on a police helicopter made a shocking discovery while trying to capture a suspected kidnapper in southern Brazil last week. They were flying over a posh neighborhood in Pomerode, in the state of Santa Catarina, when they spotted a huge swastika on the bottom of a pool in one of the area’s mansions.
According to Brazilian newspaper Zero Hora, the owner of the home is a history professor who allegedly supports Nazism and has never been apologetic about it.
Pomerode council member Luiz Gross told Zero Hora that the pool was built 13 years ago and police have questioned the homeowner in the past.
The homeowner isn’t expected to face any charges because the pool is located on private property.
“To be considered a crime, there must be a display [of the emblem] and an intent to apologize for the symbol. He put the swastika in his home; that is private. There is no group involved, it’s just a personal expression,” Gross said.
To illustrate what can be considered a criminal act, he referred to an episode in April of this year in which posters with the image of Hitler were glued on utility poles in a neighboring town.
“The crime has to include a display [of the symbol.] This time, the event was restricted to private property,” he explained.
Abraham H. Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League and a Holocaust survivor, said even in the U.S. there is nothing that police could do against a person with a swastika in their swimming pool. But he said in the U.S. that action would not go unscathed.
“In the United States, this individual might face consequences for his actions, such as the loss of his teaching position, and certainly he would be ostracized by civil society,” Foxman said.
Foxman also expressed disgust that a college professor would do such a thing.
“It is shocking that an educated person – particularly someone who teaches history – would openly support the ideology and crimes of a racist regime that murdered six million Jews and millions of others in the Holocaust,” he said. “Having said that, he is entitled to his views. And there’s not much that can be done if his views are expressed on private property, where they went virtually unnoticed for so many years.”
Nicknamed “A cidade mais alemã do Brasil” (the most German city in Brazil), up to 90 percent of Pomerode’s population is of German descent.
After World War II, many Nazi officials fled to Brazil, including the notorious Auschwitz physician Josef Mengele, the “Angel of Death,” who died there in 1979.