Germany's media and publishing companies launched the campaign, entitled "Du Bist Deutschland" (You Are Germany), last September. The project, which shows moody photographs and television shots of sporting heroes and celebrities, aims to change Germans' traditionally pessimistic view of themselves. "Don't ask what others can do for you," insists Katarina Witt, the Olympic ice-skating champion in one television spot, "You are the others. You are Germany!"
But yesterday it emerged that the Nazis had coined exactly the same slogan more than 70 years ago. Aphotograph, taken in the town of Ludwigshafen in 1934, shows a giant portrait of Hitler supported by an equally large slogan declaring: "Du Bist Deutschland."
Lars Cords, a spokesman for the "Du Bist Deutschland" campaign, admitted that the organisers were "not exactly enthused" by the discovery. "Our campaign utterly condemns National Socialism, racism and all forms of neo-Nazi activity," he insisted.
The Nazi-era photograph was unearthed by Stefan Mörz, a Ludwigshafen archivist. "Every time I see the "Du Bist Deutschland" slogan on television, I am reminded of the Nazi photograph," he said.
The Nazi-era photograph has since found its way on to several internet blogs. "An occasion to reflect on the declining differences between marketing and propaganda," wrote one.