Germany: Hitler AIDS Ad Stirs Controversy

A German charity's new anti-AIDS campaign has sparked outrage due to its depiction of Adolph Hitler having sex.

The video shows blurry but explicit images of a nude man and woman engaged in sex, then reveals the man to be Hitler as it displays the tag line, "AIDS Is a Mass Murderer." Commissioned by the AIDS awareness group Regenbogen ("rainbow") and produced by the Hamburg-based ad agency das comitee, the campaign also utilizes images of the late dictators Joseph Stalin and Saddam Hussein.

The campaign's roll-out generated fierce opposition from Jewish and Holocaust remembrance groups, who object to its use of Hitler's image, and from AIDS advocates, who maintain that it stigmatizes patients by associating them with mass murderers.

A statement from Regenbogen in defense of the campaign reads in part, "Up until now 28 million people have died. And every day there are 5,000 new cases. Which is why AIDS is one of the most effective mass murderers in history."

"Apparently the initiators and producers of this campaign are only concerned, without consideration for other's emotions, with provocation based on this slogan: Hitler sells," said Stephen Kramer, general secretary of the Central Council of Jews in Germany.

While acknowledging that "effective public health campaigns can sometimes use shock tactics well," Britain's National AIDS Trust warned that "irresponsible and incredible statements only mean that in the end people stop listening." NAT also faulted the campaign for not providing information on safe-sex practices.

German TV station RTL has refused to air the advertisement, and it is now unlikely that the campaign's World AIDS Day roll-out will be as broad as planned. YouTube pulled down the video in response to complaints. However, it remains online at aids-is-a-mass-murder.com.