Holy hell, this is in poor taste — both figuratively and probably literally. Italian prosecutors are investigating how bottles of wine adorned with images of Adolf Hitler got on to store shelves. And now human rights organizations are entering into the fray.
The winemaker responsible for this abomination, Andrea Lundardelli, claims the line is all in good historical fun. He says they started the historical series, which also features fascist Italian dictator Benito Mussolini and Soviet chief Joseph Stalin, after it was requested by a customer.
Lundardelli says it has nothing to do with politics or the eulogizing of Hitler.
One of the bottles features Hitler performing the Nazi salute, while others are adorned with the words "Mein Kampf" (my struggle) and "Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer!" (one people, one nation, one leader).
Photo: Claudia Gazzini/AP
Lundardelli says that most buyers are German, and that the label has attracted a cult following among some collectors.
The story is somewhat similar to the Indonesian Nazi cafe whose owner remains incredulous as to why it's making people so angry.
The Simon Wiesenthal Centre has called for a global boycott of the the wines.
“The Wiesenthal Centre denounces the marketing of these products and urges wine distributors in Italy and around the world to send the only message the owner of this firm might understand that they choose not to do any business with someone using the Nazi mass murderer as a blatant marketing tool,” it said in a statement.
Philadelphia lawyer Matthew Hirsch stumbled upon the bottles in a small supermarket in the northern town of Garda while on holiday with his wife. The Drinks Business reports:
Hirsch struck upon the bottles with his wife Cindy, whose aunt and grandparents died in Auschwitz and father is a Holocaust survivor.
“I was shocked. It is not just an affront to Jews, despite my husband and I being Jewish. It is an affront to humanity as a whole,” Hirsch told Corriere della Sera.
The shopkeeper allegedly told Hirsch that the bottles were part of history, “like Che Guevara.”
“The only crime that could be currently attributable to this is that of apologising for fascism,” prosecutor Mario Giulio Schinaia told news agency Ansa.
“At this point though, it would be opportune to invent the crime of human stupidity,” he added.
The mayor of Verona said the bottles will be removed from the supermarket.
“I want to reassure our American friends who visit our country that our Constitution and our culture rejects racism, anti-Semitism and Nazi fascism,” said Italian integration minister Andrea Riccardi.
“This offends the memory of millions of people and risks compromising the image of Italy abroad,” he added.
Lundardelli could be in a bit of trouble as it's been illegal to apolozie for fascism in Italy since 1952. As an aside, any kind of Nazi imagery or iconography like this is illegal in Germany.
Of course, people should be equally outraged by the bottles featuring Stalin — the Soviet butcher responsible for tens of millions of deaths during his reign.