Fernando and Josefina chose April 29 for their wedding in Tlaxcala, in central Mexico, the same date Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun got hitched.
She wore a white dress. He wore an SS uniform. The local press covered the ceremony in detail. The wedding carriage, an old Volkswagen, featured a swastika on the hood and a black cross on the driver’s door – the crest used by Hitler’s Luftwaffe and other divisions of the German military during World War II. The images show some guests wearing Mexican boots and hats, and others dressed up as soldiers. The bride and groom struck poses that mirrored infamous photos taken of their “idols,” which went viral on Internet.
The media portrayed the Nazi wedding as a surreal event, with the groom claiming that Hitler was “loved by his people,” that National Socialism has “helped” him and that he has suffered since he was a child for his “ideals,” all statements that have angered the Jewish community and international organizations set up to preserve the memory of the Holocaust.
“Our institution strongly condemns the distortion and trivialization of the memory of six million of our Jewish brothers and sisters murdered in the Holocaust, and the contempt on the part of those who deny or distort history, as well as all those who participated in this despicable act of disrespect,” said Ariel Gelblung, director of the Latin American wing of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish human rights organization. The institution has urged the Mexican authorities to condemn the wedding for promoting hatred and racism.
Meanwhile, Tribuna Israelita, which represents the Jewish community in Mexico, has added its voice to the reproof against “any act that glorifies Nazism, an ideology responsible for the murder of millions of people, including six million Jews, such as unfortunately happened during a wedding in Tlaxcala.”
The National Council for the Prevention of Discrimination (Conapred) stressed that in Mexico there are laws against anti-Semitism and called the act a “manifestation of intolerance,” adding, “on account of the thematic wedding and its dissemination in the media, we consider it necessary to flag up the terrible events that took place on European soil during the Holocaust, a crime without parallel in the history of humanity.”
The controversial couple had no problem staging their Nazi-themed wedding in a parish in Tlaxcala or in a civil court a couple of years ago, when Josefina’s dress was emblazoned with a swastika. And Fernando saw no need to conceal that he worked for the government as a civil servant, although no further details were published.
The couple have two children: Reinhard, in tribute to SS General Reinhard Heydrich, and Hanna Gertrud, named after Nazi pilot Hanna Reitsch and Gertrud Scholtz-Klink, president of the National Socialist Women’s League. “I know that Hitler is synonymous with genocide for many people, a symbol of racism and violence, but people judge without having all the information or else they just believe the story told by the winners,” the groom stated in a report published in the newspaper Milenio.
Carrying eight photographs of the ceremony, Milenio also quoted several of the guests’ opinions on what is generally being considered a glorification of Nazism, with one responding, “we have been led to believe that Hitler was a racist, but he came to greet Jesse Owens at the 1936 Olympics.” However, this claim has been dismissed by the Wiesenthal Center as “a blatant lie.”
“It’s ignorance,” says Jaime Romanowsky, a Jewish specialist in genocide issues who blames such discriminatory events on a lack of familiarity with Jewish history and culture and an eagerness to take a controversial view. “To deny the Holocaust is to deny the obvious, something the perpetrators themselves have admitted,” he adds.
Discrimination against Jews is still very much a current issue and hate speech is experiencing a global boom; what is traditionally held to be unacceptable is being widely challenged, thanks in part to technology. But it is not an issue confined to the virtual world. The Anti-Defamation League has recorded more than 2,700 anti-Semitic incidents of assault, harassment and vandalism in the US alone during 2021, an all-time high since records began in 1979.
Home to nearly 60,000 Jews, Mexico has no specific data on such incidents, but the most recent national survey on discrimination lists religious beliefs as the second most common motive, second only to physical appearance. However, Romanowsky does not see it as a general trend in the country. “Fortunately, there haven’t been massive outbreaks; incidents are isolated, but we still can’t let them happen and must prevent them from increasing.”
Yom HaShoah, the day on which Holocaust victims are remembered, was celebrated just a day before the wedding while Yom HaZikaron on May 4 pays tribute to those who lost their lives to war. “Most probably the couple who got married didn’t know that, but those days are there so that we don’t forget; to remember how fragile we are and to prevent any indiscriminate attacks against minorities and innocent people, Jewish or non-Jewish,” Romanowsky explains. “Above all, to prevent history from repeating itself.”