A parade float in the city of Düsseldorf showing the leader of Poland's ruling party as a dictator has caused shock in Warsaw. The depiction shows "contempt for Poland," said the country's foreign minister.
Germany's famous Carnival Monday parades may be over on Tuesday, but the controversy many of them were courting was not. While several float makers remained under local police investigation for inciting racial hatred, one parade float from the city of Düsseldorf was causing an international outcry.
The creation in question depicts the leader of Poland's ruling right-wing Law and Justice Party (PiS), Jaroslaw Kaczynski, as a dictator in military uniform with out booted foot on the head of a woman symbolizing his prostrate nation.
German media reports stated Warsaw's top diplomat Witold Waszczykowski took to Polish public radio to vent the government's outrage. "We will use diplomatic channels to raise awareness and ask our German partners who this serves," said the foreign minister, according to news agency DPA.
Waszczykowski said the parade float showed "contempt for Poland and Polish politicians."
No strangers to controversy
Although the Düsseldorf parade was canceled due to a severe weather warning, the float was exhibited outside city hall among a host of others, many of them similarly controversial. One depicted Germany's euroskeptic party the Alternative for Germany (AfD) as a blue man becoming increasingly brown, alluding to the color of Nazi uniforms.
Elsewhere, float organizers landed in hot water for straying too close to the line of legality with regards to hate speech. In one Bavarian town, municipal police are probing a float that showed an army tank bear a black cross reminiscent of Nazi insignia and the slogan "Asylum Defense Force" for possibly inciting racial hatred. A similar incident alluding to refugees as locusts was being investigated in the eastern town of Wasungen.
Carnival, in some parts of Germany a five-day celebration preceding the start of the Christian season of Lent, has been an important part of national culture for centuries. Recent decades have seen parade float makers satirically create politically incorrect entries in order to stir conversation, but at the same time steer clear of Germany's strict laws against hate speech.