Bastian Schweinsteiger Sues Hong Kong Toymaker Over Nazi Doll Look Alike

The Manchester United footballer, Bastian Schweinsteiger is reportedly battling a Hong Kong doll manufacturing company over a recent addition to its product range. The doll in question depicts a Nazi soldier, and according to reports it has a marked facial resemblance to the MUFC midfielder. Fuelling the controversy is the fact that the new doll is named ‘Bastian’.

The doll is advertised as being a replica of a member of the Wehrmacht supply unit, although military experts have pointed out that the uniform is not an authentic replica of the real thing. Dragon in Dream makes and sells a number of military dolls, including one of Stalin, a soldier in the British army lifeguards and a French Napoleonic dragoon amongst others.

Questioned about the doll’s name, the company said it was a coincidence and that “many people in Germany are called Bastian”. That may be the case, but Bastian certainly isn’t up there among the top ten of German boys’ names. It comes well down the list at number 89.

A spokesman for Dragon in Dream is quoted as saying that the doll was based on a ‘typical German’ and that they (the manufacturers) believed that all Germans looked that way. This comment has caused an outcry in the German press, with broadsheet Die Welt referring to it as ‘adding insult to injury’.  Tabloid newspaper ‘Bild’ called the doll a “Dirty Chinese slur” against the national football team’s captain.

Schweinsteiger is a popular figure with most Germans, and a hero to many, although his image suffered somewhat when he signed a €9-million three-year contract with Manchester United in the summer of 2015. Often described as the best midfield player in the world, Schweinsteiger’s career with Bayern Munich spanned 17 years. Since joining the German national side in 2004 he has been capped 100 times.

Some media lawyers believe that Schweinsteiger might have a good case, should he decide to take legal action against DiD because in their opinion a depiction of the footballer dressed as a swastika- wearing Nazi soldier is offensive and defamatory, The Guardian reports.

According to a report on the BBC News website, the footballer’s management company has placed the matter in the hands of its German lawyers for consideration as to whether legal action against DiD is appropriate in the circumstances.

Military toys were popular in Germany during the war years, and millions of them including replica dolls of Adolf Hitler were manufactured. Nowadays there is a market for surviving examples, with rare examples fetching high prices at auction.

Bastian Schweinsteiger 20120609” by Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE