EasyJet's Holocaust fashion shoot grounded

In an embarrassing change of course, the budget airline easyJet has pulped almost 300,000 copies of its in-flight magazine because of a monumental row over its use of a Holocaust memorial as a location for a fashion shoot.

The airline had been accused of "trivialising genocide" when eight pages of the November issue of its Traveller magazine featured models leaning against the stones of the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, in Berlin, also known as the Field of Stelae.

Jewish groups and passengers, including several on the airline's Tel Aviv route, made complaints about the article, which Stephen Pollard, the editor of the Jewish Chronicle, had called "crass in the extreme".

EasyJet said yesterday it had removed all copies from its seat-back pockets.

The foundation that manages the memorial, which comprises 2,700 concrete slabs and was opened in 2005, said in a statement that it was not asked for permission and "does not support commercial shoots" at the site.

In a fashion feature conceived to mark the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, models wearing clothes by the city's designers appear at the memorial. The accompanying article reads: "No visit [to Berlin] would be complete without exploring the testaments to the city's turbulent past, such as... the Jewish Museum and Holocaust memorial."

EasyJet appeared to be shifting blame to Ink, an external publishing house, and claimed to have no knowledge of the photographs "until they appeared in print".

Promising to review its relationship with the firm, the airline said in a statement: "EasyJet profusely apologises to anyone who may be offended by the inappropriate fashion photo shoot... featured in this month's issue of the in-flight magazine."

The publisher isn't the first to cause offence by combining Nazi Germany and contemporary fashion.

James Brown, the founding father of 1990s "laddism", resigned as editor of GQ in 1999 after the men's magazine included the Nazi field marshal, Erwin Rommel, in a list of the 200 most stylish men of the 20th century. The article praised Rommel for being "stylish in the face of adversity", showing him in a uniform personally chosen for him by Hitler.

"The Nazis" scored their own entry, reportedly to the horror of Si Newhouse, the Jewish patriarch of GQ's owner, Conde Nast.

Ink, which also has publishing contracts with Ryanair and Virgin Trains, apologised for its blunder yesterday.

"Far from trivialising the Memorial, on the contrary the intention was to encourage passengers to visit for themselves," a statement on the firm's website read. "The aim of each monthly shoot is to highlight an easyJet destination and tell a relevant narrative. The shoot was intended to not only promote local design talent and the city itself, but to raise awareness... We absolutely regret any offence caused."

It remains to be seen whether Ink's top brass will attend the annual Association of Publishing Agencies Awards tonight, where their easyJet magazine is nominated for an award. The category: "Best Use of Illustration".

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