Fashion firm offers the genocide look

By Dan Goldberg, June 2, 2011
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One of the T-shirts, as portrayed on the 'Hitler Hipster' site

One of the T-shirts, as portrayed on the 'Hitler Hipster' site

It's not quite a John Galliano but the brand identity is not far off.

A New York-based company called "Hitler Hipster" is selling T-shirts with slogans such as "Three Reichs And You're Out", "Back To The Fuhrer" and "Eastside Westside Genocide".

The existence of "Hitler Hipster", which sells the garments through a website run by an Australia-based web firm, Red Bubble, has rankled Australian Jews.

In reaction to the news, Melbourne-based, Jewish law firm Arnold Bloch Leibler, which previously provided corporate advice to Red Bubble, cut its ties with the online vendor.

And John Searle, president of the Jewish Community Council of Victoria, said: "This possibly involves antisemitism. I can imagine that people who endured such horrors at the hands of the Nazis would not find humour in it."

In a statement last week, Mark Leibler, senior partner at Arnold Bloch Leibler, said his firm has "deep roots in the Jewish community and is extremely sensitive to the consequences of the Holocaust.

"Any implication that this firm is supportive of attempts to 'reinvigorate Nazi ideas' is false and unacceptable," said Mr Leibler, who is also national chairman of the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council.

According to its website, "Hipster Hitler" is a comic-art and clothing firm that satirises "hipster culture and the exploits of the Third Reich using a combination of puns, parody, dark humour, anachronisms and visual gags".

Other "Hipster Hitler" T-shirts sold on Red Bubble, which hosts the works of thousands of artists worldwide, feature images that try to make Hitler look hip.

Melbourne-based Red Bubble CEO Martin Hosking, a former secretary of the Australian Arabic Council, said: "This is a genuine parody and not antisemitic. I don't know where you end up when you start taking down art because someone doesn't like it."

He added: "I do not support Nazi material. I have fought for human rights for the past 20 years and I find any suggestions to the contrary personally offensive."

The B'nai B'rith Anti-Defamation Commission confirmed this week it is working with Mr Hosking to resolve the controversy. "The ADC is in discussions with Martin Hosking of Red Bubble and we have had very positive conversations and are confident we can come to a resolution," said ADC executive director Deborah Stone.

But Liam Getreu, a former president of the Australasian Union of Jewish Students, wrote on his blog this week that although "Hipster Hitler" isn't for everyone, satirising Hitler is "the ultimate 'screw you' to the Nazis".

    Last updated: 1:17pm, June 2 2011