Mein Chianti? American Lawyer Triggers Controversy Over Sale Of Hitler Wine In Italy

It appears the fight over Lebensraum is now being waged over liquor store shelf space. An American couple has triggered a free speech controversy in Italy after complaining about the sale of wine with the image of Hitler on the label or other labels for “Mein Kampf” wine or wine with the motto “Ein volk, ein Reich, ein Fuhrer” (one people, one empire, one Fuhrer). Michael Hirsch, a lawyer from Philadelphia, complained about the sale of such items. In Italy, prosecutors are looking into the matter for possible criminal charges. The question is whether the producer should have a right to supply such bottles and customers should have the right to buy such bottles.

I certainly agree with Hirsch (whose wife’s family has holocaust survivors) that the sale of these bottles are offensive and I also agree with the decision to complain to the local supermarket for carrying such offensive items. I would have done the same thing in complaining to the establishment.

However, it is not clear when Hirsch went to the media whether he was demanding action by the government even though such products are lawful in the United States. Indeed, I recently represented a vodka manufacturer which successfully challenged a bar on sales due to the alleged offensive nature of its label.

The media coverage led Andrea Riccardi, the Italian integration minister, to issue a statement “to reassure our American friends who visit our country that our Constitution and our culture rejects racism, anti-Semitism and Nazi fascism.” For her part, Prosecutor Mario Giulio Schinaia said that she is looking into possible criminal charges.

We have previously discussed limitations on free speech in countries like Germany following World War II — crimes that include any Nazi symbols or material that have led to arrests for things like ringtones. Obviously, critics of the wine are concerned with more than a few skinheads getting blitzkrieged on Hitler schnapps. It is hard to believe that the wine is being bought simply as a novelty by most of these customers and is part of a resurgence of fascist political groups in Europe, particularly in countries like Germany, France, and Greece.

I have been a long critic of such laws as doing little but forcing speech underground and making martyrs out of fascists who simply alter symbols slightly to get around the restrictions. I continue to maintain that, even in countries with fascist histories like Italy and Germany, the only solution to bad speech is more speech. Censorship historically has done little to change minds. People have a basic right to express their political viewpoints and to associate with like-minded people in the political realm.

The wine controversy comes at a time when some legislators are seeking to decriminalize the creation of fascist parties in Italy.

The stories on the wine controversy quote prosecutors as citing a crime in Italy for “apologising for fascism.” This curiously worded law is the barrier not only to free speech but to the creation of political parties. By “apologising,” the Italians appear to mean something closer to “defending” or “advocating.” As a civil libertarian, I have considerable concerns with such content-based regulation of speech. While I share the concern over the resurgence of fascism, I tend to gravitate toward greater than less free speech in such cases. Moreover, the wine controversy shows how far such limitations can extend. It could include parody or artistic expression as well as political speech.

Notably, Austria recently dropped a criminal probe and allowed Hitler wine to be sold in that country. His decision could lead to some interesting conflicts with teeshirts featuring the wine but showing Hitler in circumvention of national laws. For those seeking to limit speech, the danger of liquor lebensraum is that it could spread to an array of consumer items glorifying the Third Reich.

One producer is Roland Marte, 48, who produces an array of Hitler bottles including schnapps. He has described the line as “Nostalgic bottles from a former historical great.”

The fact that an American couple triggered this debate is ironic since these wines would be entirely protected in the United States. Once again, it is not clear that the Hirsch’s did anything other than raise awareness of an obnoxious product. However, prosecutors should not be involved in such matters in my view.

What do you think?

Source: Telegraph

70 thoughts on “Mein Chianti? American Lawyer Triggers Controversy Over Sale Of Hitler Wine In Italy”

  1. ARE,

    No. What I provided were indeed facts. What you want are facts that conform to your ideological preferences and the candidates and pols that represent them. The failure of the suit was immaterial to the evidence against Prescott Bush and its admissibility. The fact is he got $1,500,000 from UBC funds once they were unfrozen after the war. Admissible evidence derived from subpoenaed business records show this. If that fact doesn’t conform with your wishes? Too bad. I won’t lie about the evidence just to assuage your bias and ignorance, buttercup.

  2. I’m not so sure it was a fantasy as much as a compilation of more accurate memories of how many Jews behaved ( and were not credited with doing so) that lent itself to a collective understanding of actual fact. People seem to believe that being powerless in a situation is the same as being weak and nothing could be further from the truth. Truly weak people do very well. They don’t find themselves in ‘situations’ because they never take a stand against anything that can hurt them. They always seem to look unruffled. Real people know better. Real people occasionally find themselves having to say no to bullies or having to do things that protect others and not themselves. I say a mental PHuck You to all the ones that just go along w/the quo…..that way I can look at myself in the mirror and sleep at night.

  3. Arthur:

    Danke. Schade, dieser Song ist in Deutschland verboten. Es gäbe viele Parodien sein.

  4. “The movie Inglorious is fanasty and has no relation to reality. There are far more fitting movie subjects of Jews who actually DID fight against the Nazis”


    That “Inglorious Basterds” is a fantasy is exactly why I and many others love it.
    Yes there are other movies dealing with Jewish resistance that are actually factual at base. “Exodus” for instance deals extensively with the glorious fight Jews put up in the Warsaw Ghetto, but ultimately that fight ended in tragedy. One particularly good one was “Defiance” starring Daniel Craig and Liev Schreiber. That dealt with the actual resistance efforts of the four Bielski brothers in Belarus. Since one of my daughters actually knew the granddaughter of one of the surviving Bielski brothers, the movie resonated with me. .

    What I wasn’t clear on though was that “Inglorious” was cathartic to me because it didn’t simply show Jews as tragic heroes, ultimately either escaping or meeting tragic destruction. That it was a fantasy of not only heroic resistance, but actual total Jewish victory over the NAZI’s, was what made it so satisfying to me. You must remember that for two thousand years Jews have been portrayed as cowardly weaklings by those who disdain us.

  5. “Mike S, Before you libel a person, I suggest you do some simple research.”


    I most usually research my “purported libels”. Such as here:

    That article contains extensive sourcing for my conclusions. Much of it is taken from the book by investigative reporter Russ Baker “Family of Secrets”.
    However, I am an “equal opportunity purported libeler” as you can see in this other blog I did here which deals with IBM’s assistance to the NAZI’s and the “Shoah”.

    I would also suggest that you expand your own horizons when it comes to this subject by perusing “The Secret War Against the Jews”by John Loftus and Mark Aarons, St. Martin’s Press (1994).

    1. As for the libel, I was refering to the post that P Bush was a Senator at the time along with other fallacies. There is no question that he was a director of the bank. I think that the fact the ADL cleared Bush of any involvement or complicity with the Nazis is quite sufficient for most people, including myself. AS for IBM, they are far worse and did during the war help out the Nazis.

      My father worked for IBM after the war for a time, and my mother told me about the police state IBM ran in Binghamton, NY. She especially was outraged at the annual 4th of July picnic where TJ Watson berated Gen. Marshall who was an invited guest speaker. IBM had a secret police which investigated the personal lives of all employees, and she really hated that kind of thing. From my family experience, I have NO problem with any allegations against IBM as to helping the Nazis. Watson was typical of his class in his sympathies and outlook.

      I had wanted to see Defiance, but I missed the chance. It sounds like a great flick which I will have to see. THAT is my kind of movie. It is like the difference between Star Wars and Star Trek. Star Trek is science fiction in that it has science as an intergral part of the movie and Star Wars is more fantasy. I enjoy both though.

  6. I wrote a theme song to the Hitler Wine.

    Das Horst Wein Lied (music )

    Die Gläser hoch. Die Flaschen werden geöffnet.
    AH marschiert, mit lauter betrunkenen Schritte
    Kameraden, ist der Rotwein in den Schnapsgläsern.
    Berauscht von Geist, als ‘Narren sind wir mit.

  7. which is worse, “i was only following orders” or “nothing personal, it’s just business”.

  8. Nothing fake about the history. I said enabler and he was an enabler of the Nazis. The “in the US” was your qualifier. That his name wasn’t on the door is irrelevant to his knowledge, standing and assistance as a Director of UBC. Even if he was acting at the direction of Walker and Harriman, that is irrelevant to him being an enabler in fact just as they were. Speaking of irrelevant? That is why I didn’t mention the outcome of the suit. The outcome is irrelevant but the documents produced during discovery still have historical significance and they were not ruled inadmissible. The suit itself was ill conceived and poorly prosecuted. The state, which was also party to the suit, quashed the case by having Judge Rosemary Collyer rule them immune from liability under state sovereignty. By going for too many pockets (and using questionable strategy in general), they inadvertently damaged any direct case against the Bush family. Although Bush (and Harriman and Walker) had reason to know what the Nazis were doing and materially benefited from doing business with Germany using funds derived from slave labor, doing business with Germany wasn’t against the law until war was officially declared. None of that changes that by doing business with the Nazis, Prescott Bush was part of the enterprise that enabled them in their rise to power. He personally netted $1,500,000 when UBC assets were unfrozen after the war. He then used this blood money to found his family’s investment empire which they are still using to nefarious ends to this day. If that is inconvenient for you? Too damn bad.

    1. Gene H I actually want FACTS for my history. YOU have provided nothing but RUMORS and innuendo. The FACT is the suit failed and nothing whatsoever proven on the lines of your assertions. Using your logic, any person who bought anything or did any business with Germany after 1933 was an enabler of the Nazis. In fact, there was a movement in the US to boycott all things from Germany at that time. So any person who went to the 1936 Olympics would have to be considered an enabler too.

      As for the supposed $1,500,000 P Bush was RUMORED to have gotten for his ONE SHARE of stock, that is ALL it is. RUMOR. In FACT, P Bush had more than enough money from his position as a director and executive to build his fortune without such a windfall. So far, I and the ADL have not seen any PROOF of the allegations. Bush was at worst a good emplyee doing what he was told to do by his boss, Harriman. Sorry, but I do insist on factual things.

  9. And that would clear Prescott Bush of being involved in the fascist friendly Business Plot how exactly? Or his knowledge and assistance to the Nazis as a Director in the bank? If you want Harriman mentioned? Fine. Mention away. He qualifies as an enabler as well. Also, the ADL isn’t an official investigative body of any government let alone ours. Note that the bank was seized under the Trading with the Enemy Act and its assets held for the duration of World War II. Also, what I said was “an enabler from the shadows like Prescott Bush.” This is an accurate statement. Consider this excerpt of a story that appeared in The Guardian

    “George Bush’s grandfather, the late US senator Prescott Bush, was a director and shareholder of companies that profited from their involvement with the financial backers of Nazi Germany.

    The Guardian has obtained confirmation from newly discovered files in the US National Archives that a firm of which Prescott Bush was a director was involved with the financial architects of Nazism.

    His business dealings, which continued until his company’s assets were seized in 1942 under the Trading with the Enemy Act, has led more than 60 years later to a civil action for damages being brought in Germany against the Bush family by two former slave labourers at Auschwitz and to a hum of pre-election controversy.

    The evidence has also prompted one former US Nazi war crimes prosecutor to argue that the late senator’s action should have been grounds for prosecution for giving aid and comfort to the enemy.

    The debate over Prescott Bush’s behaviour has been bubbling under the surface for some time. There has been a steady internet chatter about the “Bush/Nazi” connection, much of it inaccurate and unfair. But the new documents, many of which were only declassified last year, show that even after America had entered the war and when there was already significant information about the Nazis’ plans and policies, he worked for and profited from companies closely involved with the very German businesses that financed Hitler’s rise to power. It has also been suggested that the money he made from these dealings helped to establish the Bush family fortune and set up its political dynasty.

    Remarkably, little of Bush’s dealings with Germany has received public scrutiny, partly because of the secret status of the documentation involving him. But now the multibillion dollar legal action for damages by two Holocaust survivors against the Bush family, and the imminent publication of three books on the subject are threatening to make Prescott Bush’s business history an uncomfortable issue for his grandson, George W, as he seeks re-election.

    While there is no suggestion that Prescott Bush was sympathetic to the Nazi cause, the documents reveal that the firm he worked for, Brown Brothers Harriman (BBH), acted as a US base for the German industrialist, Fritz Thyssen, who helped finance Hitler in the 1930s before falling out with him at the end of the decade. The Guardian has seen evidence that shows Bush was the director of the New York-based Union Banking Corporation (UBC) that represented Thyssen’s US interests and he continued to work for the bank after America entered the war. ”

    That sounds like an enabler to me. And Nazis are one of those rare instances of pure evil that by merely enabling them you actually do accrue guilt by association. See, you mistake me naming one of your boy’s as a villain even though his motivation was purely greed (as opposed to being a card carrying Nazi) as partisanship when I don’t like either party. I think Obama is aiding and abetting treason and war crimes by not prosecuting Prescott’s grandson and his gang of neocon fascist lackeys. That the GOP attracts some of the worst of the worst is simply coincidental. If you can find an example of a DNC enabler to the Nazis and can point to some modicum of evidence? Be my guest. I’d love to see it.

    1. Those documents that are cited were NOT secret and Bush said he WAS a director of UBS under the direction of Averell Harriam, who was his boss. Bush also co-operated and did nothing to enable the Nazis in the US. The firm you will notice was NOT Bush and Harriam by the way.

      I am not a fan of Bush, but I dislike fake history, and smears when the truth is quite sufficient and only discredits thosw who make slander,libel and guilt by association a crime. By the way, since the suit was filed in 2004, you failed to tell us of the resutls. Why is that?

  10. Mike S, Before you libel a person, I suggest you do some simple research. P Bush was NOT a Senator during or before WWII. He lost his first bid for US Senate from CT because he was TOO LIBERAL! He supported and was active in Planned Parenthood which cost him the Catholic vote which was determinative in CT. He also fought against Sen. McCarthy and voted for his censure, UNLIKE JFK who was good buddies with his fellow Catholic bigot. JFK refused to fight against McCarthy because of his father who WAS a Nazi sympathizer. He also did NOT vote for censure either.

    There was a time that there were such things as liberal Republicans, and Bush was one of them. Of course, if he were around now, I think he would disown his grandson.

    I could find no reference at all to the plot that was reported by Smedly Butler and I did not see Bush’s name at all. I would be very surprised since it goes against every political and business dealing Bush had. That plot involved mostly the DuPont family and their friends in that area. Bush was not that politically active in 1933 when that happened. So absent any evidence, that is nothing but a libel as well. In fact, the Anti-Defamation League found P Bush to NOT be guilty of aiding the Nazis or being one. I take their word on that score since they have a big interest in uncovering REAL Nazis.

  11. Gene H, if you only mention P Bush and NOT HIS BOSS, then you are being partisan. Harriman was the guy in charge of the banking firm and so he is the one who is mostly responsible. The Anti-Defamation League found no evidence that P Bush was a Nazi sympathizer or enablerer. The bank was actually owned by a Dutch cut out and they never found out who the real owners were. We can assume that is was Thyssen controlled.

    As for wealth not being a qualifier for political office that is quite true, but it is also true that great poverty is not either as LBJ proved. At least LBJ remember where he came from, and once in power did something about it. JFK was far better than his family and I recommend a book the Kennedys hate, JFK Reckless Youth, which made me appreciate JFK more than I originally did.

    Another book that is good about the real traitors during WWII, is Trading With the Enemy, and Bush is not even mentioned as one of those. I still cannot use a TEXACO station and will never use one as long as I live.

  12. Mike S, everyone tells me what movies I should see. I never even HEARD of Inglorious, but after your comment, it has risen to the top of my must-see list. Thanks. :mrgreen:

  13. After Inglorious ended my wife and I sat stunned in our seats as the credits rolled. We were too choked up and emotional to speak. As a Jew it was cathartic, when compared to all the Shoah movies that depict Jews as helpless victims. However, judging by the reaction here and by the fact that Tarrantino, a non-Jew made a movie that so powerfully released a Jewish fantasy of destroying the NAZIS before the worst was done, I see that this movie raises universal human feelings making it the work of a genius.

    1. The movie Inglorious is fanasty and has no relation to reality. There are far more fitting movie subjects of Jews who actually DID fight against the Nazis, but not as only Jews, but in the Resistance groups in Eastern Europe which were mostly Communist, and thus unfit for US consumption.

  14. Blouise, I missed Woosty’s remark but true it is, as well as the kudos to Inglourious, one of my favorites. I saw it a couple of days ago and checked to see if it won any Oscars, only one for best supporting actor! They was robbed.

  15. Gene H, I am shocked, SHOCKED!

    If people do not become wealthy by being good and fit for leadership, how else could they possibly become wealthy? What you say is so counter-intuitive.

    About them getting through the eyes of needles, that is being arranged.


Comments are closed.