Amazon takes down Auschwitz-themed products after public shaming

Amazon on Sunday removed Auschwitz-themed products amid backlash from Twitter and the Auschwitz memorial museum.
Amazon on Sunday removed Auschwitz-themed products amid backlash from Twitter and the Auschwitz memorial museum.
Image: akub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum in Poland had to turn to Twitter get Amazon to remove Auschwitz-themed products.

In a tweet Sunday morning, the museum shared images of Auschwitz-themed Christmas ornaments and bottle openers available on Amazon, describing them as “rather disturbing and disrespectful.” Twitter, too, was flooded with critical responses to the products.

The museum tweeted that afternoon Amazon had removed the products, but later discovered that more ornaments — and a mousepad labeled “Massacre Auschwitcz [sic] Birtkenau Jewish Death”— were still up on the retail site.

Amazon eventually removed all of items the museum criticized on Monday. According to the New York Times, an Amazon spokesperson responded to the controversy by saying “all sellers must follow our selling guidelines and those who do not will be subject to action, including potential removal of their account.”

Amazon’s policies state it prohibits “products that promote, incite or glorify hatred, violence, racial, sexual or religious intolerance or promote organizations with such views” and that contain “violent or offensive material that has no historical significance.” It also states, however, that Amazon “reserves the right to make a determination on the historical value of the item.”

The retail site previously came under fire for similar incidents. A 2018 report by two nonprofits detailed how Amazon had been selling anti-Semitic and racist items as early as 2015, including Hitler Youth knives, swastika-printed running shoes, and Lego figures dressed as Nazi soldiers.

In response, Amazon said in August 2018 it would not allow third-party retailers to sell Nazi- and white nationalist–themed products on its platform. But it obviously has problems vetting third-party retailers, which isn’t a new problem. 

In July, a federal court ruled that Amazon could be sued for defective products, noting that the company “generally takes no precautions” to ensure third-party vendors are in good legal standing. And while Amazon said in an August blog post that it uses machine learning to vet “bad actors” with some human supervision, an investigation by the Wall Street Journal found thousands of “banned, unsafe or mislabeled products.”

Although Amazon already removed the Auschwitz-themed products, other third-party retail platforms have been slow to react. 

It turns out the same products were available on Wish after Amazon took action. 

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Author:Haidee Chu

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