17 March 2004
BERLIN – The Central Council of Jews in Germany intends to fight an American-based animal-rights group over a controversial campaign likening animals to victims of the Holocaust, according to a published report Wednesday.
Council Chairman Paul President has vowed to use Germany’s stringent laws against public display of Nazi emblems or slogans to stop the “Holocaust On Your Plate” campaign being launched in coming days throughout Europe by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), according to the report in Berliner Zeitung newspaper.
After making waves throughout the U.S. last year, PETA’s controversial “Holocaust on Your Plate” exhibit opens in Stuttgart Thursday, coinciding with a national advertising campaign.
The display, which consists of eight freestanding 2.5-metre panels, each showing photos of factory-farm and slaughterhouse scenes side-by-side with photos from Nazi death camps, graphically depicts the point made by Yiddish writer and Nobel laureate Isaac Bashevis Singer, who wrote, “In relation to [animals], all people are Nazis.”
But Spiegel, representing Germany’s 100,000 Jews, calls the exhibit and its accompanying billboard promotional campaign “an anti- Semitic provocation” which could jeopardize fragile gains made by Jews in post-war Germany.
“We have hired a number of attorneys and are exploring all legal avenues for stopping this dangerous campaign,” Spiegel told the Berlin paper.
“Should PETA actually go through with its plans to launch a billboard campaign equating the holding of chickens in mass-breeding facilities to the incarceration of Jews in concentration camps, we’ll most certainly file legal complaints,” Spiegel was quoted as saying.
In Germany, all public display of Nazi emblems or slogans is banned. In addition, it is potentially slanderous to call someone a Nazi or even to compare an individual or a group to the Nazis.
But PETA officials said the European campaign would go ahead as scheduled.
“The exhibit will make its European debut in Germany at Stuttgart’s historic Schlossplatz to remind shoppers and the lunchtime crowd of the dangers of turning one’s back on the victims of oppression,” PETA Deutschland deputy head Harald Ullmann was quoted as saying.
“Just as millions of Europeans ignored the concentration camps, allowing them to operate for seven years simply because they were not themselves being victimized, millions of people today turn away from the horrors of factory farming,” he explained.
“In today’s factory farms and slaughterhouses, animals are treated as nothing more than milk-, egg-, and meat-producing machines. They are abused in unthinkable ways. Chickens have their beaks seared off, cows are skinned and dismembered while still alive, and pigs have their testicles yanked out, all without any painkillers.
“Like victims of the Holocaust, they are forced to endure a frightening journey on tightly packed transport vehicles through all weather extremes, and then they are herded to their deaths,” he said in a statement.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is an animal rights group founded in 1980. PETA works primarily on the issues of animals used for experimentation, food, clothing, and entertainment. It claims to have grown from a handful of volunteers to an international organization with more than 800,000 supporters.
Opening Thursday in Stuttgart, Germany, the “Holocaust On Your Plate” exhibit travels to Zurich, Milan, Zagreb, Budapest, Vienna, Bratislava, Prague, Warsaw, Stockholm, Copenhagen and Amsterdam.
Subject: German News