19:51 GMT28 May 2020
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    A popular Czech publishing house specializing in history, military history and technical literature, has sparked public outcry after it started selling mugs and T-shirts with Adolf Hitler’s portrait.

    The Naše Vojsko (Our Army) publishing house is no stranger to controversy. As recently as in 2016 it published Hitler’s Mein Kampf.

    In an interview with Czech Radio, the head of the company’s marketing department Stanislav Svoboda said that they were merely responding to customer demand.

    “We do not feel that we are propagating Nazism. In such a case we would have to distribute such products for free on a street corner. But in this case people are buying a product they want with money they have earned. What they believe in or support has nothing to do with us. We are merely providing a product that was in demand,” Svoboda explained.

    The owner of the publishing house, Emerich Drtina, insisted that the decision to sell souvenirs bearing the portrait of the ill-famed Nazi leader was just an advertising stunt.

    “We just wanted to give the people a good shake, that’s why we added something to our website. The items with Hitler’s image were a PR stunt to attract attention, nothing more,” Drtina told the news site iDNES.

    The controversial offer was quickly withdrawn following angry protests from the country’s Jewish community and the general public.

    “We resolutely condemn the sale of T-shirts and mugs with Adolf Hitler’s portrait. The publishers explain this by commercial considerations, but we see this as Nazi propaganda and an insult to the memory of those who were killed by the Nazi regime and complete disrespect for those who survived,” the Federation of Jewish Communities, the Jewish Museum of Prague, the Jewish Community of Prague and the Women’s Zionist Organization or the Terezín Initiative, a gathering of Czech Holocaust survivors, said in a joint statement.

    “Naše Vojsko used to be a serious publishing house, but Emerich Drtina now decided to make money no matter what. Adolf Hitler killed millions of people in death camps, jails and on the battlefield. The village of Lidice, burned down by the Nazis, serves as a reminder to future generations so that they never forget and try to prevent wars and terrorism,” Communist MP and deputy head of the Committee on Defense in the lower house of parliament, Alexander Černý, told Sputnik Czech.

    He said that propaganda of Nazi ideology in advertising is outlawed in the Czech Republic, adding that Naše Vojsko publishers have no respect for the victims of war and the Holocaust.

    “Emerich Drtina has no idea what moral and ethical values are all about, that his business is an insult to those who survived the horrors of war and lost their loved ones. Last year they were selling Hitler’s Mein Kampf. Unfortunately, that incident had no legal consequences as Drtina advertised the book as educational material.”

    “I just can’t explain in words how the victims of war feel about this,” Alexander Černý added.

    Meanwhile, the first reprint of Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf in Germany since World War II has proved a surprise bestseller, heading for its sixth print run.

    Previously subject to a complete ban in Germany, Hitler’s semi-autobiographical book has sold 85,000 copies since a “critical version” of it was released in January last year.

    The book was published in two volumes and in April reached the top of German magazine Der Spiegel's non-fiction bestseller list.

    In December 2016, it was reported that Mein Kampft had gained popularity with Italian schoolchildren, according to a recent nationwide survey.

    The poll found that the book was among the top ten favorite books selected by children in ten Italian schools. Students wrote Mein Kampft among their responses despite the book being ineligible for the survey, which was supposed to include only Italian authors.

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    Hitler's Mein Kampf Becomes Surprise Bestseller in Germany
    'Prohibitionism Tends to Backfire': Italian Kids Name Mein Kampf Among Top Books
    public outcry, T-shirts, Hitler mugs, publishing house, Adolf Hitler, Emerich Drtina, Stanislav Svoboda, Czech Republic
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