German Company Apologises Over ‘Border Fence’ Beer

Beer is presented at the opening day of the 'Gruene Woche' (Green Week) agricultural fair in Berlin on January 15, 2016. The International Green Week opens its doors to the public till January 24.

A brewery in Germany has been forced to take its “Border Fence” beer from supermarket shelves after a campaign claimed the beer was “anti-migrant” and alluded to Nazism.

Just last week Staubringer brewery released its new beer called “Border Fence” but public pressure has now forced them to remove every last bottle from shops. CEO of the Bavarian brewery, Frank Sillner, said the beer had nothing to do with hate but rather love for Bavaria.

He said the label was meant to portray what the company thinks are the true values of Bavarians by using terms like “protect,” “defend,” “hard work,” “loyalty,” and “discipline.” “You have everything that Bavaria stands for on the label,” he told Die Welt. The whole controversy, according to him, is just a misunderstanding.

Criticism of the beer came first on social media with people saying that the beer was insensitive toward migrants and some even accused it of having Nazi symbology. Conspiracy theories abounded on Facebook about the label and critics said various things surrounding the beer were really subtle neo-Nazi messages. Critics have said that the font used is reminiscent of the Nordic runes used by the infamous ideological elite guard of the Third Reich, the SS.

The theorists point to the expiry date on the bottles of November 9th which is the same day as the failed Beer Hall Putsch in 1923, the Kristallnacht in 1938 which saw Jewish businesses vandalized and destroyed, but also interestingly was the date of the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989. Even the price of the beer led many to believe there was a secret message as it was 88 cents.

In neo-Nazi circles 88 is substituted for the 8th letter of the alphabet giving one HH or “Heil Hitler.”

The brewery was quick to dismiss the claims of Nazi ties. It said the price was actually 80 cents (the extra 8 was a bottle deposit) and that though they chose the name during a debate they had between themselves on the migrant crisis, they initially wanted to choose “Bayern Halbe” but it was already taken by a different company.

Students at the University of Regensburg called on the public to boycott the brewery entirely. The student union, after pressure from students, also agreed to not buy any more beer from the brewery which was a huge loss as it was previously providing beer for five dining halls and 17 cafeterias at the University.

By recalling the beer the company bowed to the pressure and issued a statement on their website apologising for the misunderstanding saying, “we have hurt people’s feelings with our beer, this was not our intention.”

This isn’t the first time university students have pressured critics of the migrant crisis. Last month a law professor at the University of Leipzig was pressured by students and faculty to distance himself from his public support of the PEGIDA movement after what had happened in Cologne on New Year’s Eve. He said the entire ordeal reminded him of the inquisition or what happened to homosexuals in 1930’s Germany.


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