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The Scent of Ostalgie Kitsch

Erich Honecker's shower gel is sure to have you stepping out of the shower smelling like an old communist. But GDR victims' groups are incensed at the last "Ostalgie" product to hit the shelves.

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Sweet smelling? Not to GDR victims

The gel, which hit the store shelves a few days ago and is being advertised by the supermarket chain Reichelt is called "East German Erich's shower gel." Named after the former GDR leader, an advertisement promises that it comes on the recommendation of countless "leading state-owned companies and fellow comrades."

Retailing between 2.49 and 6 euros ($2.90 and $7), the gel is the latest in a long line of products mocking or playing on nostalgia for the communist German Democratic Republic. GDR victims' groups are not amused.

"These items are simply tasteless. They offend the victims of the SED," Hubertus Knabe, director of the memorial at the former East German secret police headquarters in Berlin, told Bild newspaper.


Knabe demanded Reichelt take the product off of its shelves. "Many of those who were persecuted see the advertisement as mockery of their suffering, he said.

"Nobody would try something like this with the Nazi regime," he said.

A Reichelt spokesman told Spiegel Online that the company had planned to sell the product as a joke. According to the spokesman, most have already been sold out, and there are no plans to restock.

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