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The controversial offer was quickly withdrawn following angry protests from the country’s Jewish community and the general public.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