Everyone’s saying it: there are too many options for graves these days. Blame advancements in rocks and etching technology; it’s hard to secure a subdued yet respectful marker for anything less than the market rate of a Tesla. So credit where credit is due to a German man named “Oliver E.,” from the town of Weil im Schönbuch in Baden-Württemberg, for cutting through the noise on the relative advantages of mausoleums vs. obelisks and going for what he wants.
But that spirit of innovation is probably the only upside to Oliver’s DIY memorial. In mid-July, the 51-year-old, whose last name was withheld by German newspaper Bild, honored his late father by commissioning someone to chainsaw his likeness into a large wooden slab. It wasn’t perfect; the sculptor may not have had depth perception or an advanced understanding of hands. More importantly, multiple neighbors complained to Weil im Schönbuch Mayor Wolfgang Lahl that Oliver’s depiction of his dad bore a distinct resemblance to Hitler.
Within a few days of its installation, Mayor Lahl “received half a dozen hints from concerned citizens about the wooden figure," he told Bild. At issue was the figure’s uniform-looking outfit, engraved with the number “88” – shorthand for “Heil Hitler” – and its mustache, which can only be described as Hitler-like. Lahl eventually ordered Oliver to remove the statue, citing restrictions in Germany against Nazi imagery.
For Oliver’s part, he claims that his dad, Ewald E., was both a carpenter and cashier at a football club, hence the jersey and soccer ball. The number 88, he said, was the street number of Ewald’s former house. No word on the mustache though. The Baden-Württemberg authorities are now investigating whether the memorial violates the German Criminal Code. Sounds like it’s back to the sculpting board for Oliver E.