In the U.S., coming up with a clever name and label for your product is a key component of the craft brewing game, so much so that 25,000 active trademark registrations have been filed from beer companies. And in recent years, wineries have been jumping on the bandwagon, too, creating more colorful and enticing labels in the hopes of setting their bottles apart from the fray.
That said, it's safe to assume that adorning a bottle of wine with a photo of Adolf Hitler—unequivocally the worst person to ever walk the earth—in not going to give a business the right kind of attention. Still, that basic logic hasn’t stopped a vineyard outside of Germany from producing "Hitler Wine," featuring the word “Führerwein” and an image of the Nazi leader. And now the product has reportedly landed one Bavarian pub owner in serious legal trouble after he displayed the bottles of the wine at his business.
Strafgesetzbuch 86a—a section of the German criminal code that came into effect following the fall of the Third Reich—has strict penalties for anyone found propagating Nazi paraphernalia and symbols like swastikas. A patron visiting the pub saw four bottles of the controversial wine on display—at least one featuring the Nazi salute, or "Sieg Heil”—and called the police.
Police conducted a raid on the pub, and arrested the 49-year-old owner after discovering the goods. He claimed to be unaware of the law banning all Nazi symbols, and said he had only received the wine as a gift. The man put the bottles on display because he thought they were "funny," he said.
Under Strafgesetzbuch 86a, the "use of symbols of unconstitutional organizations" is punishable by up to three years in prison, according to the Local. If someone is found guilty of hoarding Nazi "produces, stocks, imports or exports objects which depict or contain such symbols for distribution or use domestically or abroad," they can land themselves in especially serious trouble.
Still, despite the severity of the charges, officials do not believe the owner of the pub had any ties to far-right political groups.