This Nazi-Themed German Beer Targets Muslim Immigrants and Jews Alike

The beer’s name, “Borderfence half” or “Grenzzaun halbe” was—according to the head of the brewery himself—chosen to evoke arguments being made to seal off Germany’s borders from asylum seekers, mostly from the Middle East.

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Mar 29 2016, 7:00pm

Photo via Flickr user VincentJames21

A Bavarian brewer has pulled a special line of beer it produced from the market. On its website, Röhrl Brewery posted this message: "For us entirely surprising references were made that were not intended by us nor wanted… We distance ourselves from all forms of xenophobia… We apologize strongly and formally for the… misunderstanding."

Maybe they shouldn't be so surprised. The beer's name, "Borderfence Half" or "Grenzzaun halbe" was—according to the head of the brewery himself—chosen to evoke arguments being made to seal off Germany's borders from asylum seekers, mostly from the Middle East. According to The Guardian, Frank Sillner, the CEO of the Straubing-based brewery, said that he did in fact intend the beer's name to comment on the migration crisis and to "remind people of the virtues Bavarian values." Sillner told the German news agency DPA that the idea for the beer came to him during talks about Germany's refugee policy. Bavaria has been the main point of entry into Germany for over one million refugees in just the past year.

But wait, it gets worse. People are accusing the brewer of using Nazi symbolism in not-so-subtle ways. The brown bottles of the special-issue beer were emblazoned with the words "the homeland needs beer," "protect," "defend," "preserve," "diligence," "loyalty," and "discipline." Sounding more führer-like by the moment?

Then critics noticed that the retail price of the beer was €0.88. The number 88 is used by neo-Nazis as a veiled way of saying "Heil Hitler"—H being the eight letter of the German alphabet.

There's more. The "use-by" date of the entire batch of 2,000 bottles was November 9, the same date upon which Kristallnacht (known in English as the "Night of Broken Glass"), the anti-Jewish pogrom, took place in 1938.

The company says that all the Nazi references are just a coincidence. They do, however, admit to their anti-refugee stance, or, as Sillner puts it, their pro-Bavarian position: "When the refugee influx surged, we wanted to point to all of Bavaria's good and positive traditions, to urge that we please do not forget, despite all willingness to help, what makes our Bavaria beautiful and good," he told DPA. MUNCHIES reached out to Röhrl Brewery for comment, but did not receive a response.

As The Washington Post pointed out in a recent article, Europe's anti-migrant rhetoric has begun to echo Nazi propaganda of the 1930s. And that most definitely is not a good thing.

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