Coming from the UK, perhaps one of the most alien cultural differences here is the utter horror of any reminder of the Nazi period. Whilst Prince Harry and his chums may quite happily don SS fancy dress and barely a day goes by without the Swastika appearing somewhere on UK TV, here it remains strictly verboten. I'm even slightly careful not to hold my arm too rigidly when raising a hand in greeting, as one does multiple times a day here. Truly.
A 51 year old Croatian chap is finally going home this week after a month in custody and with a fifteen month suspended sentence for making the Hitlergruß.
Some of you may remember a mammoth libel case brought by Lord Aldington against Nikolai Tolstoy some years ago. Aldington, then Brigadier Toby Low, together with an officer named Harold Macmillan, were instrumental, when commanding units of the British army of occupation here in 1945, in forcefully sending back tens of thousands of Croatian Ustache fighters and their families to Yugoslavia, where they were massacred in mass shootings just across the border. Having fought for Hitler, these Croat fascists wanted to surrender to the British or Americans, but wartime diplomacy meant they had to be sent back to their certain death.
Anyhow, every year there's an embarrassingly fascistic remembrance event at Bleiberg with flags and an open air catholic mass. The Austrian and Croatian governments both want it to end, as does the local Catholic bishop. The Croats and their sympathetic priests, however, are determined to continue. It's all carefully watched by the police - which is why, when this fairly pissed chap shot his right arm up, he was promptly arrested. 'Reactivation', it's called.
Prince Harry, be warned.