Amazon Yanks Auschwitz-Themed Tree Ornaments From Its Marketplace

Photo: Lynne Sladky, AP

Amazon has pulled a number of items that inexplicably depicted Nazi concentration and death camp Auschwitz on Christmas tree ornaments and bottle openers after they were flagged by the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum on Twitter.

The official account for the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum in Poland on Sunday shared screenshots of several items for sale on the site, including bottle openers and a star-shaped ornament depicting barbed-wire fencing and another bell-shaped ornament displaying the entrance at Auschwitz II-Birkenau, with all of the items advertised with the availability of “customisation.” An estimated 1.1 million people were killed or died at Auschwitz concentration camps during the Second World War.

“Selling ‘Christmas ornaments’ with images of Auschwitz does not seem appropriate. Auschwitz on a bottle opener is rather disturbing and disrespectful,” the memorial museum tweeted early Sunday, asking that Amazon remove the items from its platform. By Sunday afternoon, it sent a follow-up tweet that the original items appeared to have been removed, but tweeted that it had identified others in the Amazon marketplace.

Reached for comment, an Amazon spokesperson confirmed by email those “products in question” had been removed from the site, though it appeared the seller’s profile was still active and selling other items.

“All sellers must follow our selling guidelines and those who do not will be subject to action, including potential removal of their account,” an Amazon spokesperson said in a statement. But the company did not respond to multiple requests for comment about why they were able to be sold on the marketplace, to begin with.

The Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum didn’t immediately return Gizmodo’s request for comment about the incident, but we’ll update if we hear back.

This isn’t Amazon’s first rodeo with disturbing and highly-inappropriate merchandise appearing on its marketplace with seemingly little oversight. Amazon yanked books that encouraged the use of fringe, potentially life-threatening “autism cures” for children involving bleach, among other horrific abuses. It also pulled bath mats displaying Islamic religious text earlier this year after CAIR said the mats “would be stopped-on or otherwise disrespected by customers.” Many times, Amazon sellers are offering merchandise that’s simply an algorithmically-generated concept for users to purchase as a one-off item that’s only manufactured after the order is placed.

Let’s also not forget Amazon was slow to pull Confederate-flag themed merchandise until most other major retailers decided that was a problem. While Amazon did eventually bend to public pressure and bar those products in 2015, a report from July of last year found that white supremacist merchandise and Nazi imagery continued to crop up on the site.

Now, it seems, the site can add distasteful Auschwitz Christmas ornaments to its ever-growing list of weak product oversight and embarrassing marketplace failings.

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