Wine Bottles With Portrait of Hitler Sell in Italy, Attract German Tourists Despite Years of Outrage
Nazi leader Adolf Hitler accepts the ovation of the Reichstag after announcing the ‘peaceful’ acquisition of Austria, in Berlin, Germany, March 1938. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.
A collection of wine bottles that feature an image of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler on its labels are being sold in Italy as collectible items and are attracting German tourists.
The wine bottles show Hitler in a range of poses with slogans such as “Mein Führer” (“My Leader”), “Sieg Heil” (“Hail to Victory”) and “Ein Volk, Ein Reich, Ein Führer” (One People, One Realm, One Leader”).
The bottles are made by Italian winemaker Vini Lunardelli, who founded his winery in 1967 and and started his Historical Series of wines in 1995. About half of the company’s bottled wine production is dedicated to the Historical Series, which now has over 50 different labels that showcase images of dictators such as Joseph Stalin, Vladimir Lenin, Benito Mussolini, Che Guevara, Napoleon Bonaparte and Francisco Franco. The wines have become a “cult object among the collectors,” according to the company’s website.
Austrian cosmetic surgeon Dagmar Millesi, from Vienna, Austria, reportedly told Austrian media this week that German tourists were traveling to the resort of Jesolo near Venice to buy the wine, The Times reported. She said she was shocked to see the items being sold in a supermarket in Jesolo and that she complained to a store employee about the bottles.
“The store employee said Germans very much like to buy these wines, and they are clearly the big hit there,” she said. “The saleswoman was even amused at my outrage . . . nobody is angry about it, no one forbids it . . . I couldn’t believe it.”
While the sale of products showcasing swastikas and many other fascist imagery are illegal in Germany and Austria, they are still legal in Italy.
The wine bottles with Hitler’s image have been outraging people for years and the Simon Wiesenthal Center called for their boycott in 2013. When Jewish lawyer Matthew Hirsch from Philadelphia saw the bottles being sold in a small supermarket in the northern town of Garda while on vacation in Italy in 2012, he complained but was allegedly told by the store owner they were “part of history.” He told The Daily Telegraph, “I was shocked. It is not just an affront to Jews … It is an affront to humanity as a whole.”
Italian integration minister Andrea Riccardi said at the time, “I want to reassure our American friends who visit our country that our Constitution and our culture rejects racism, antisemitism and Nazi fascism. This offends the memory of millions of people and risks compromising the image of Italy abroad.”
The Italian city of Remini receives five or six complaints a year on average about Lunardelli’s Historical Series, city mayor Andrea Grassi told The Times of Israel in 2018. He said past attempts to push for legislation outlawing fascist products had all been unsuccessful and that “as long as a new law is not approved, all attempts at [action by the municipality] can achieve nothing.”