What, in the hell, is this?
The Mr. President hotel in Belgrade is receiving increasing flak from Jewish communities worldwide for its $200 a night Hitler suite, one of numerous room dedicated to various world leaders. In the hotel, Serbia’s B92 radio reports, one can “have tea with Margret [sic] Thatcher, surf the Internet with George Washington and soak in the Jacuzzi in the company of Josip Broz Tito”.
The ADL announced their outrage in the Jerusalem post on Tuesday, with Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, saying, “using this tyrannical dictator to promote a hotel is a gross marketing ploy and demonstrates a profound failure to understand the horror of the Holocaust.”
Gross, macabre, and effective — Foxman said he was “deeply” disturbed by the “high demand for the hotel suite”. The room is the hotel’s “most popular”, attracting mostly German, Croat, and Slovenian guests. Zabunovic considers his choice to have a certain nobility, saying he is memorializing the Holocaust with the suite:
[Hotel manager Dusan] Zabunovic has not specifically commented on the ADL’s complaint, but on Wednesday, the hotel manager told Cybercast News Service, “It’s not just marketing. We placed the (Hitler) picture there because we don’t want to forget the bad things that Hitler has done.”
The manager said he’s not sure if the Hitler portrait will be removed, but he added that the hotel does not want to attract negative publicity.
The manager also said Hitler isn’t the only controversial leader. He mentioned one Serbian man who didn’t want to sleep in the Bill Clinton suite….Zabunovic told ABC News that Hitler’s victims would “turn in their graves” if there was no memorial to “what a monstrous criminal he was.”
I can’t say that I’m inclined to buy the whole “we’re the Yad Vashem Inn” defense he’s saying in the media; his “negative publicity” is keeping the room booked. Whether he is really acting under noble intentions or putting the lock on the anti-Semite niche market only time will tell.
Is the memory of the Holocaust and its catastrophic genocide becoming cheapened? The 2006 Indian faux pas of the Hitler’s Cross cafe still haunts search engines, and Italian winemaker Vini Lunardelli got caught up in 2007 for making its Der Führer line of wines, made “on special request” from German and Austrian vinophiles. 2002 saw the heyday of the Hitler Techno Bar in South Korea’s 2nd largest city Pusan, and Dubai-based Conqueror Realty “stood by” its 2007 decision to use Hitler in its UAE advertising campaign, with its owner saying: “He’s a famous person — bad or good, I don’t care — and I want to attract the attention of readers. And yesterday we had a lot of response.”
We should be outraged, but I feel, more than that, when Hitler triggers positive enough responses in people’s minds that they make consumer decisions based on seeing his face…perhaps it’s a sign we should be watching our collective backs.