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January 27, 2016 3:32 pm

Hitler Teddy Bear in Norwegian Health Campaign Enrages Jewish Groups, Causes Banning of Ad

avatar by Shiryn Solny

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An advertisement released by Norway's Heart and Lung Association, and the LHL Asthma and Allergy. The ad was banned in Norway. Photo: LHL Asthma and Allergy Facebook page.

An advertisement released by Norway’s Heart and Lung Association, and the LHL Asthma and Allergy. The ad was banned in Norway. Photo: LHL Asthma and Allergy Facebook page.

An ad featuring a teddy bear resembling Adolf Hitler was recently banned in Norway, after members of a local Jewish organization expressed concern that the stuffed animal might soften the image of evil, the UK’s Daily Mail reported on Wednesday.

“Hitler was a mass murderer and he doesn’t deserve this kind of attention,” Ervin Kohn, leader of the Norwegian Jewish society Det Mosaiske Trossamfun, told the Norwegian publication Dagbladet. “I’m worried that Hitler can be made to seem less dangerous when he’s used in such a way.”

The ad was part of a campaign initiated by Norway’s Heart and Lung Association, and its special unit, the LHL Asthma and Allergy, to illustrate how dust and other microbes can accumulate on toys and pose a threat to children’s health. Above the bear’s head was a caption reading: “Teddy bears can be dangerous,” followed by the subhead: “Collections of dust in children’s rooms can provoke asthma and allergies. Wash stuffed animals four times a year.”

Other ads in the campaign featured teddy bears that resembled the late dictators Muammar Gaddafi of Lybia and Kim Jong-Il of North Korea.

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Many social media users wrote on the LHL Asthma and Allergy Facebook page that they found the ads offensive, according to the television network Russia Today. One Facebook user, who claimed to be a descendant of Holocaust survivors, told the organization, “[I] Have lost all faith in you after the bad judgment you showed in this campaign.”

A mother posted a message saying, “My children’s teddies haven’t killed anyone, they haven’t torture chambers, they haven’t shot or gassed small children to death and I’m pretty sure they don’t have anything against Jews. Stop comparing teddies with killing sprees!!!”

Another online user called the Hitler teddy “incredibly tasteless,” and said, “Comparing Hitler’s hatred, racism and ideology which ravaged and destroyed an entire world with dust from teddies??… I’m ashamed.”

A spokesperson for the advertising firm Kitchen, which helped launch the campaign, defended the ads by saying that with a “simple and clear message, combined with a very bold idea, we managed to turn LHL Asthma and Allergy from an organization no one knew to being on everyone’s lips. But most importantly, the Norwegian people became aware of a very important fact — that they have to wash their stuffed animals so they don’t become dangerous.”

Copywriter Bendik Romstad added, “By focusing on children’s bedrooms we want to stop the problem of asthma and allergies before it even starts to develop. This campaign addresses how dangerous stuffed animals can be if they are not washed regularly. For children, stuffed animals can be just as dangerous as the world’s worst despots.”

LHL Asthma and Allergy said that the number of children with asthma and allergies in Norway has increased four-fold since the 1970s, with more than 20 percent of children affected.

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