American lawyer Michael Hirsch was flabbergasted when he discovered a local supermarket stocking wine bottles portraying images of Adolf Hitler on the labels, while visiting northern Italy with his wife Cindy.
“It is very shocking and startling to us,” Mr. Hirsch told the UK’s Daily Telegraph on Wednesday. “We would think of it as neo-Nazism. It makes you wonder about the sympathies of the local people.”
Mrs. Hirsch echoed similar sentiments, adding that the anti-Semitic images were not only offensive to Jews. “It is not only an affront to Jews, even if my husband and I are Jewish. It is an affront to humanity as a whole,” she stated.
One bottle displays the German dictator with his arm raised in a Nazi salute, while another labeled ‘Mein Kampf” is named after Hitler’s infamous anti-Semitic book. Another Nazi slogan, “Ein volk, ein Reich, ein Fuhrer” (one people, one empire, one Fuhrer), was also featured on a wine bottle. Hirsch noticed the racist bottle labels while he was purchasing items at the supermarket and complained to a store employee.
“He told me ‘It’s just history, like Mussolini like Che Guevara.’ I put the bottle down on the counter and left the store,” reported Mr. Hirsch. Mrs. Hirsch’s father was born in Czechoslovakia and is a Holocaust survivor. Her aunt, grandparents, and other family members were murdered in Auschwitz.
Local Italian prosecutors claim that they have opened an inquiry into the sale of the offending wine bottles. “The only crime that could be currently attributable to this is that of apologising for fascism,” prosecutor Mario Giulio Schinaia told Italian news agency ANSA. “At this point though it would be opportune to invent the crime of human stupidity”.
The Italian government condemned the anti-Semitic images as well. “I want to reassure our American friends who visit our country that our Constitution and our culture rejects racism, anti-Semitism and Nazi fascism,” guaranteed Andrea Riccardi, the Italian Minister for International Cooperation. “This offends the memory of millions of people and risks compromising the image of Italy abroad.”