Alderman targets other swastikas

NASHUA – An alderman is now asking that private businesses or organizations in the city take down or cover up a playbill that incorporates a swastika in its design.

Last week, Alderman-at-Large Fred Teeboom expressed outrage over the display of the poster, which promotes the upcoming performance of the play “Taking Sides,” outside of the Hunt Memorial Building.

Teeboom, who is Jewish, said his complaint was that the symbol was being displayed on a city-owned building and that passers by on Main Street could mistake it as a “Nazi gathering place” if they didn’t stop and read the poster.

Teeboom had threatened to propose a city ordinance banning the symbol’s display on city-owned buildings if the image wasn’t removed or covered up.

Yellow Taxi Productions, the theater group putting on the play, ultimately decided to cover up the swastika on the poster outside of the Hunt Building, leaving other posters in the city unchanged.The play, which opens Friday, is about the investigation of a conductor who stayed in Germany after Hitler’s rise to power. The poster shows the conductor’s silhouette, and along the left side is a draped Nazi flag, with the swastika showing.

Earlier this week, Teeboom said someone called him to let him know that a smaller version of the poster was hanging in the main entrance of the Greater Nashua Chamber of Commerce on Main Street, a private building.

Teeboom contacted Chris Williams, president of the Chamber of Commerce, and asked that his organization also cover up the swastika.

“Whether it’s a private building or a public building, it’s equally ugly,” Teeboom said.

Williams said he made the decision to comply with Teeboom’s request by following the lead of the theater group, which is a member of the chamber.

“I didn’t even allow myself to get into a consideration of whether it is right or wrong in anyone’s eyes,” Williams said. “It was a simply a matter of following the lead of those putting on the play.”

Teeboom said he would continue to ask that the symbol be covered up on other posters in the city that are in plain view of passing walkers or drivers. He said he has no objection to the play or the poster being displayed inside.

“Irrespective of where displayed, the poster was designed with the swastika to sell tickets, in offensively poor taste,” Teeboom said in an e-mail Wednesday. “Without context, the poster appears to announce a Nazi meeting.”

The play is set to run at the Hunt Building until Sept. 27. There is a panel discussion scheduled for the evening of Saturday, Sept. 20, at 6:30 p.m. at the Hunt Building.

Teeboom said he plans to attend both the play and the discussion.

Matt Cahoon, president of Yellow Taxi Production’s board of trustees, said last week that the decision to cover the symbol was made in response to a request from Rabbi Jon Spira-Savett of the Temple Beth Abraham.

The theater group placed a white piece of paper over the poster, which is still hanging outside of the Hunt Memorial Building. The chamber of commerce took a similar approach, covering up the symbol but leaving the poster up.

The poster – with the swastika exposed – can still be seen throughout downtown promoting the play.

Teeboom grew up in Amsterdam during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands in 1940. His family had relatives who were killed in the Holocaust.

In 2006, Teeboom apologized after telling a Nashua resident of German descent in an e-mail that he should perhaps “go back to das fatherland” after the resident complained about proposed cuts to the school budget.

“I have no great love for Germans in general,” Teeboom said at the time. “I’m afraid Germans facings Jews will have to face that for a long time.”