A flag enthusiast has apologised after flying a Nazi swastika outside his house – claiming he had no idea what it meant.
Martin Baker, 54, hoisted the red and black Waffen SS flag on his flagpole on Friday and sparked instant outrage on social media.
But the grandad-of-two, who has more than 100 flags in his collection, insisted he had not recognised one of the most hated of all symbols.
The flag was only flying for 24 hours before he realised the upset he was causing when friends started to message him.
The grandad-of-two, who bought the flag on the internet, said he was horrified and would be getting rid of it from his collection.
He said: “I want to say sorry to everyone who might have been upset by the flag. I didnt know exactly what it means.
“I don’t want to upset anyone, so took it down as soon as people started contacting me about the fuss it was causing.
“I put it up on Friday night and it was taken down on Saturday morning.
“I normally keep them up for a few weeks, but the phone started ringing and people were telling me about the anger it was causing.”
Mr. Baker, a self-employed retailer from Doncaster, South Yorks, added:
” I want to put the record straight.
“There was no motive behind it. It was purely down to my ignorance as to what it represented then and what it represents now.
“I Googled it and realised I had dropped a massive blunder. I just want to apologise for any upset I have caused.”
Mr Baker, who has three children, has been flying different flags outside his home for nearly a decade and has more than 100 in his collection.
He said: “I’m a Leeds United fan and I had a Leeds flag bought for me. There was a little garage down the road and they had a 20ft flag pole that they said I could have.
“From then I started to buy different flags. I have Welsh, Irish, Scottish, English and the Union Jack.
“I then started flying a Christmas flag and have had just taken down a pink Valentine’s flag with a big heart on when I put this one up.”
Mr Baker’s large detached house is situated on a main road into a rural village and has neighbouring houses to either side. There is a cul-de-sac to the right of his house and a row of houses to the left.
He said: “I got flags bought for me and people started to come past and put requests through the door.
“I had a letter off one lady saying her grandson loved coming past the house and that he was a scout, so I bought a club scout flag and flew it for him.
“I was just looking on the internet and looking through all the flags and this came up as a ‘WWII flag‘.
“I was trying to find some more to buy because I wanted to get free shipping.
“It didn’t click with me what it was. I didn’t give it much thought. I tend to buy flags because I like the design.
“I’m a bit gutted that all this has happened. I really don’t want to upset anyone. I want to say I’m very sorry from a personal point of view.
“It’s upset me a bit. I had no hesitation in taking it down.
“I’m a big supporter of our military and the charities I give to are the British Legion poppy appeal and Help for Heroes. I would never want to upset anybody. I’m not a fascist at all.
“My wife is not happy at all. One of my grown up children said ‘you should have gone to school more dad.’
“After this incident someone on the internet wrote ‘anyone with half a brain knows what that flag is’ and I just thought ‘well I haven’t got half a brain.’
“I will be more careful next time.”
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