BERLIN (JTA) — An ad campaign that compared animal slaughterhouses with Nazi extermination camps is illegal, Germany’s high court found.
Germany’s main Jewish group welcomed the March 26 German Supreme Court decision against the 2003 “Holocaust on your Plate” ad campaign by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. The suit against PETA was filed in 2004 by Paul Spiegel, late president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany.
"It is a milestone ruling, stating very clearly that no use of the ‘Holocaust’ and its victims to raise attention for other present political issues, dilemmas or just political demands is acceptable and legal," Stephan Kramer, secretary general of the Central Council, told JTA in an e-mail.
The campaign included eight large panels showing black-and-white images of emaciated concentration camp inmates next to full color photos of chickens, turkeys and other animals fattened for the slaughter. One poster bore the slogan “Final Humiliation,” and another read "For animals, all people are Nazis.”
A photo of children in a concentration camp stood next to one of piglets in a stall. Under them was the caption “Child Butcher.”
The court said that the comparison — like outright Holocaust denial, which is illegal here — could prove extremely hurtful to Jewish people in Germany.
"Horror makes headlines," noted Kramer, and "this is unacceptable" even if the cause is just. He noted that anti-abortion activists in Germany recently used the term "babycaust," which he found similarly inappropriate.
"I hope that the ruling of the Supreme Court will set some new standards and re-establish old ones, so that such comparisons are out of the question," Kramer said.
Spiegel had called the PETA campaign “the most disgusting abuse of the memory of the Holocaust in recent years.” The project also was condemned in the United States by the Anti-Defamation League and other groups.