Four German tourists face prosecution after allegedly raising a Nazi flag at a beach where thousands of American soldiers were slaughtered on D-Day.
The group – who have not been identified – were at the Vierville-sur-Mer campsite in Normandy, France, on the 75th anniversary of the Second World War landings last Thursday.
The site overlooks Omaha Beach where, on June 6, 1944, up to 5,000 mainly US soldiers were killed or wounded by Germany infantrymen in Nazi-occupied France.
The tourists caused shock and outrage by putting the Nazi standard up as a warped commemoration of the historic day, it is claimed.
"They initially said they wanted to mark the day properly, sticking to history," said an investigating source in Normandy.
"It was a commemoration of sorts, because the area was full of German camps in the 40s, but it caused an enormous amount of anger and hurt."
Gendarmes were called to the scene, and confiscated the flag – one that cannot be displayed publicly under French law.
Now the tourists could face a fine of £1,300 and a formal warning if convicted.
Ludovic Vautier, who runs the Vierville camp, told Ouest France newspaper that he was first alerted to what happened by a colleague.
"My blood was boiling," he said. "I immediately went to see the group and asked them to remove the object.
"They did so without any problem, and told me they did not know it was forbidden. I alerted the gendarmes, because to begin with I didn’t know who I was dealing with."
The Germans were in their 40s, and had no previous convictions for pro-Nazi activity, Mr Vautier added.
They said they had bought the flag in a wartime memorabilia shop, along with a German Army uniform from the war.
Neo-Nazi groups have been known to turn up at D-Day commemorations in the past, complete with insignia and other mementoes.
All forms of Nazi insignia – including uniforms – are banned in France, except if they are being used in a film or play.
Prime Minister Theresa May and US President Donald Trump were among those who paid tribute to those who died on ‘Bloody Omaha’ during last week’s D-Day commemorations.
The Omaha Beach sector was the responsibility of the US Army, and they came up against fierce resistance from the Wehrmacht – the German Army, as opposed to fanatical Nazi units such as the SS.
The carnage is depicted in the opening scene of Steven Spielberg’s classic war film, Saving Private Ryan.
Casualties were so enormous that there are no confirmed records of how many soldiers were killed, wounded or went missing.
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