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MAINZ, Germany — A construction firm apologized "several times" and German police are investigating after bricks were laid in a new pedestrian walkway in a swastika shape. It is unclear whether the symbol was the result of a deliberate action by workers, whether it was an innocent mistake or whether a third party had rearranged the colored stones at the construction site in Goslar, Germany. Under German law, the use or display of Nazi symbols is illegal and can result in hefty fines or sentences of up to three years in prison.
Christian Burgart, spokesman for Goslar's city council, told NBC News that officials were alerted on Saturday night. “We immediately had the red bricks removed from the area where we are refurbishing our inner-city pedestrian zone, but residents had already voiced their dismay in emails to our offices," he said. Police confirmed the incident was being investigated. The image of the Nazi symbol in the footpath also caught the attention of more than 50,000 Facebook users. However, police spokesman Ulrich Munschke warned against sharing the photo "as a posting on personal social media accounts could already be seen as a violation of German law." Goslar's mayor held talks with the construction company's owners on Monday but “did not have the impression that this was a deliberate act and the company apologized several times,” Burgart added.