WORLD NEWS
09/06/2019 22:41 EDT

Tourist Sued By Austrian Hotel After Complaining About Nazi Portraits, Swastika

The bad online review was "defamation" of soldiers in the Nazi armed forces, the hotel owners charged.

Artsiom Malashenko via Getty Images
Two German soldiers in World War II.

A tourist who complained online about a portrait of a Nazi at an Austrian hotel has been sued by the business, The Guardian reported.

The German visitor, identified only as “Thomas K” in court documents, shared negative reviews about a week after visiting the hotel in the town of Gerlos in the Tyrolean Alps with his wife a year ago. He complained in anonymous messages on TripAdvisor and Booking.com after viewing two portraits in the hotel entrance of a younger and older man, both apparently members of the German armed forces, with one also wearing an eagle and swastika badge with his uniform, the newspaper reported.

“At the entrance they display a picture of a Nazi grandpa,” the tourist reportedly wrote in English on one of the sites. “This made us wonder what the hotel owners are trying to tell us with this image. This incident speaks volumes about the current state of affairs in this region of Austria. Sadly, our desire to visit this mountain region has disappeared completely.”

The hotel owners demanded both sites remove the reviews. They claimed the label “Nazi grandpa” was libelous and defamatory because the two men — both late relatives — had been members “only” of the Wehrmacht united armed forces of Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1945, Deutsche Welle reported. Conscripted soldiers could be defamed as Nazis, they argued. 

Booking.com removed the review, but U.S.-based TripAdvisor did not. The hotel managed to trace the identity of the reviewer, however, and sued.

The kicker? Both men had, in fact, joined the Nazi Party, “K” discovered after a search of the German Nationals Archives, according to Deutsche Welle.

The hotel owners said they had “no idea” — but the case is pending. The still-unidentified owners are now complaining that their own reputation may be under attack — and K has countersued in Germany.

The review has been removed from TripAdvisor, and the portraits have been removed from the hotel lobby.