German visitors complained on Booking.com and Tripadvisor about pictures of NS-era relatives on the wall of an Austrian hotel. Now the owners of the hotel are suing them for defamation.
Austrian hotel owners are suing a German man who posted complaints about portraits of relatives apparently in Wehrmacht uniforms displayed in the hotel's entrance hall. The complaints were published on Booking.com and Tripadvisor under the heading: "At the entrance they display a picture of a Nazi grandpa."
The man was on holiday with his family last August in the village of Gerlos in the popular Zillertal region . Thomas K, as he is named in court documents, noticed prominently displayed pictures of two men in uniforms with eagle and swastika badges when he checked in to the hotel.
The complaints were posted in German and English under a pseudonym and have since been deleted. According to The Guardian, K wrote: "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."
A lawyer representing the hotel owner has said they have since decided to remove the portraits from display. Although the review on Tripadvisor can no longer be seen, that hasn't stopped one potential visitor from asking: "Is this the hotel where the 'Nazi grandpa' was displayed?"
The hotel owners requested Tripadvisor and Booking.com delete the posts. While Tripadvisor initially declined, both sites have since complied with the requests. The hotel owners managed to contact K by matching his booking number to the review, and have since filed a lawsuit for defamation against him with a regional court in Innsbruck.
The owners claim that their uncle and a grandfather were not members of the NSDAP, but rather the Wehrmacht, the armed forces during the time of German annexion of Austria. However, the German tourist has been able to prove through research at the German National Archives that the two men did in fact join the National Socialist party in 1941 and 1943 respectively.
The trial is expected to continue later this year.