A musician’s model car collection was among the highlights of the “German International Month” at Hsin Tien Senior High School in New Taipei City, drawing attention to the 300 toy cars from famous German automakers.
The cars belong to Yeh Shu-han (葉樹涵), music professor at National Taiwan Normal University, a well-known trumpet player, and miniature car enthusiast who has many models patterned after the early years of automobile production or commemorating historical events.
One model was a surprise for German Institute Taipei media and public affairs officer Sven Meier: a World War II-era open-top Mercedes-Benz with figurines of Axis Power leaders Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini standing in the back as if reviewing a parade.
Photo: Weng Yu-huang, Taipei Times
The school invited Meier to give a talk on German history and culture, including Germany’s role in the war, events associated with Hitler and the persecution of Jews and other people, who died by the millions in concentration camps and prisons.
The war was a dark chapter, and the German people have learned its painful lessons, and vowed to pursue peace, and the Nazis’ swastika flag and other symbols are outlawed in Germany, Meier said.
“In Germany today, this particular miniature car could not be put on public exhibit,” he said, pointing to the swastika flags on the sides of the tiny car.
Photo: Weng Yu-huang, Taipei Times
The miniature is a model of a 1939 Mercedes-Benz 770K Grosser Offener Tourenwagen that commemorates a parade in Munich, Germany, during Mussolini’s June 1940 visit to Hitler, shortly after Italy entered the war.
Yeh said he started collecting model cars when he was 10, after his father gave him a toy car, and his hobby has become a passion.
“On my many trips abroad for music tours and concerts, I look for stores selling miniature cars,” said Yeh, who said his collection now numbers 800 cars.
As he learned about the history of car production in other countries and the aesthetics of car design, his collection reflected what he learned, he said.
School principal Chen Ying-shan (陳瑛姍) said the school organizes an international month event every year that focuses on one country.
“The aim is for students and teachers to learn different aspects of foreign history and culture, to promote mutual respect and understanding, and to enhance interaction among peoples of different nations,” she said.
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