BERLIN (JTA) — Germany can bar the animal rights group PETA from comparing the fate of animals today with that of Holocaust victims, Europe’s highest court for human rights ruled.
The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg on Thursday upheld a 2009 German Supreme Court ruling that banned People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals from using photos of concentration camp inmates and other images of the Nazi genocide alongside photos of abused animals in its campaign Holocaust on your Plate. PETA has three months to appeal the ruling, according to German news reports.
The Central Council of Jews in Germany, which had fought the PETA campaign since it was launched here in 2004, welcomed the ruling.
"The judges were correct in determining that the [German] ban did not infringe on freedom of expression, but that rather the poster campaign trivialized the Holocaust in an irresponsible manner," Dieter Graumann, head of the council, said in a statement Thursday.
The German PETA 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, in German, “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.” According to reports, the PETA campaign in Germany was even more explicit than the U.S. ad campaign that was launched in 2003.
The Central Council sued PETA in 2004. The late Paul Spiegel, then head of the council, called the ad 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.
PETA lost and appealed to Germany’s Supreme Court, which ruled against it in 2009, noting that the comparison of human to animal suffering could prove extremely hurtful to Jews.