Hitler Wine in Italy

The Drinks Business has just posted a story of an American visiting the northern town of Garda, Italy who objected to wine bottles decorated with images of Adolf Hitler.

Hitler Labels

The shopkeeper allegedly told [Philadelphia lawyer Matthew] 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.

Apologizing in Italy for fascism was made a crime in 1952. What is left out of the story is that this is not an isolated case (pun not intended). Note the former news stories from 2008, 2007, 2003….

Those traveling in northern Italy will often find souvenier imagery of Hitler in shops. I have noticed it myself. When I asked shop keepers in 2001 for an explanation they gave me a simple one: Austrians come to Italy to buy Hitler paraphenalia. They sell.

Here is a photo I took of a case of mini-bottles of wine displayed prominently in a convenience store in Assisi, Italy. The blury yellow words inside the box read “Vino d’Italia”; Italian for the “wine of Italy”.

Basically the stricter regulation in Austria against “promoting or glorifying” the Third Reich has created a market in Italy.

Even Austria’s law, however, earlier this year was tested and failed. The Daily Mail explains that “You can sell Hitler schnapps!”

…state prosecution official Heinz Rusch said the investigation ended because of a lack of proof that it was intended to glorify the National Socialist era.

He said the 48-year-old, known as Roland M by prosecutors, from Vorarlberg in the east of the country, was motivated by profit and not by ideology.

Interesting logic. Austrians clearly have not given up glorifying Hitler. Reminds me of books about serial killers motivated by profit and other killers motivated by profit. Should consequence be ignored when it lacks ideological motive? Likelihood of harm obviously will be far higher if protected by a profit clause. Meanwhile, popularity for Hitler is found even among the Austrian youth, as the Daily Mail also warns.

…new survey asked youngsters aged between 16 and 19 what they thought of the dictator.

Pollsters were astonished when 11.2 per cent of them said that Hitler ‘did many good things for the people’.

What good could they possibly mean? Or are they just confused and talking about the wine and liquors they’ve been buying?

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