Italian ‘Hitler’ Wine Sparks Outrage and Condemnation
An Italian winery selling a line of Nazi and fascist branded wines has outraged both tourists and Jewish human rights organizations. Under the label known as The Historical Line, the winemaker Vini Lunardelli’s series celebrates the lives of such personalities as Che Guevara, Churchill, Napoleon, Marx, Mussolini, and Hitler.
The Hitler label features more than 20 different images of Hitler – more than any other leader in the wine series featured on the company’s website – in various salutes and poses, with Nazi slogans such as Heil Hitler and Mein Kampf. The Vini Lunardelli wine also feature Nazis such as Rudolf Hess and Heinrich Himmler, who organized mass murder of Jews during the Third Reich.
A Norwegian couple vacationing in northeastern Italy this week said they were shocked to find the controversial wines being sold there, according to a report in the Daily Telegraph. And an American couple, Matthew and Cindy Hirsch, in northern Italy, were also disturbed to find the wines sold in a local Italian supermarket during a vacation last year in Garda. Cindy Hirsch’s father was a Holocaust survivor, whose parents and other family members were killed in the Auschwitz death camp.
“I was shocked,” Mrs. Hirsch told the Daily Telegraph. “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.”
After the Norwegian couple’s initial shock a week ago, the Simon Wiesenthal Center released a statement denouncing the selling of the wine products and called for their boycott.
“The Wiesenthal Center 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.”
The Wiesenthal Center has been protesting the selling of the Hitler wines since the line came out in 1995.
Half of the Vini Lunardelli company’s wine production is dedicated to The Historical Line which has 50 different historical personalities and has become a cult object among collectors according to the company’s website. The website also notes that The Historical Line has garnered the wine company a lot of attention “from the media all over the world both for the originality of the idea and for the quality of wines.”
“But we never want to do politics or to eulogize Hitler and his men or Mussolini or to offend someone,” Lunardelli said in an e-mail to Tazpit on Monday. She also added that most of the buyers of the Hitler wines are German, but that there are orders from Austria and Eastern Europe as well.
Lunardelli said the Italian wine company, based in Udine, had removed Nazi symbols like the swastika and the SS symbol from the labels, and that it doesn’t use racist phrases but only nationalist phrases.
But “Enough is enough,” said the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Rabbis Marvin Hier and Abraham Cooper. “We first protested the marketing of ‘Führerwein’ in 1995. Now an expanded line of wines that demean, diminish, and mock Hitler’s victims are promoted on a slick website.”