Two tourists have been arrested in Germany for making the Hitler salute while posing for photographs in front of Berlin's Reichstag parliament building.

The Chinese holiday-makers were spotted by police officers patrolling the historic landmark as they snapped smartphone images of each other raising their arms in the straight-armed gesture that has been outlawed in Germany since shortly after World War II.

The men were questioned by police and released after paying 500 euros ($796) bail each.

"A probe on suspicion of using the symbols of anti-constitutional organisations was opened against the two Chinese men, aged 36 and 49," a police spokeswoman told AFP.

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The spokeswoman said the men could leave Germany during investigations into the incident, and if a fine was handed down, the bail money they had already paid was likely to cover it.

Germany has strict laws against hate speech and symbols linked to Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. This includes the Hitler salute, also known as the Nazi salute, which is illegal in Germany as well as Austria, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, and restricted in many other countries.

These men weren't the first tourists to try pulling off the Hitler salute in Germany.

In 2011, a Canadian tourist was arrested after he was photographed giving the offensive salute, also outside the Reichstag. He was fined and spent several hours in police custody.