A 19-year-old German man has been given a one-year suspended sentence after bearing a swastika tattoo on his chest in public, a court spokesman said on Friday.

The man, who has not been named, stripped off last summer at a lake between Berlin and Hanover and other swimmers and sunbathers present made an official complaint, Wetzlar court spokesman Amin Lauber-Noell told AFP.

"He claimed that it was covered up with a plaster and that this fell off. Whether that's accurate or not is another question," he said.

The public display of Nazi symbols like the swastika have been banned in Germany since World War II. People are allowed to have tattoos, but only if the symbols are not seen in public.

"That means that if you have a swastika, you are not allowed to walk around naked," Lauber-Noell said. The trial took place on Thursday.