Auschwitz Concentration Camp Christmas Ornaments Removed by Amazon

The holiday season can be a sensitive time for many people who regard it as a sacred part of their religious and cultural traditions. Christmas, in particular, tends to bring up a lot of controversy for the religious and non-religious alike. Some people get upset at being greeted with “Merry Christmas” while others believe that saying “happy holidays” is some kind of attack on their Christian heritage. Meanwhile, nativity scenes erected outside of churches and schools have often been vandalized.

People who come from a Jewish background are also often targets of hate crimes and discrimination during the holiday season. Needless to say, the holiday season is an emotionally tumultuous time for much of society, regardless of what traditions you practice, or if you don’t celebrate any of them at all.

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The latest controversy this holiday season happened when Amazon, a world leader in online retail, was forced to remove offensive Christmas ornaments from their online store. The controversial ornaments depicted images of Auschwitz concentration camps.

Auschwitz was a complex of concentration and death camps located in occupied Poland and operated by the German Nazis under the rule of Adolf Hitler during World War II. Millions of Jewish people were forced to live and work in concentration camps and statistics say almost six million were killed by the Nazis of which, nearly one million died in Auschwitz. The complex is now a memorial and museum visited by just over two million people to date.

The Auschwitz Memorial faculty described some of the items being sold by Amazon as “disturbing and disrespectful” according to a CNN news report. The items in question, which are no longer available, include various Christmas tree ornaments, a mouse pad and bottle opener showing pictures of the Nazi death camps.

One of the images showed the train tracks leading into the entrance of Auschwitz, by which millions of Jews were carted into the camp by force to meet their ultimate demise by way of torture and hard-kill methods such as gas chambers and firing squads. Some scenes from inside the camps were even depicted in some of this merchandise.

Amazon had removed the items being sold by third parties after officials from the Auschwitz Memorial brought it to their attention via Twitter. A later Tweet from Auschwitz Memorial officials confirmed that the items in question were removed from the marketplace but that other similar items had been identified.

After the initial post was made, officials from the Auschwitz Memorial began to notice other items being sold with pictures of the concentration camps on them. However, at the time of publishing, all of these other items also appear to have been removed from sale by Amazon.

Most of the products offered by the same sellers feature pictures from popular war-related tourism sites around the world. For example, one of the companies that was selling a Christmas tree ornament bearing an image of a freight train entering Auschwitz, continues to sell an ornament featuring a picture of the Genbaku Dome over the Hiroshima bomb site in Japan. The seller contends that this is simply merchandise showing different pivotal moments in history, but critics believe that it is making light out of a genocide, and making a profit as well.

One Amazon spokesperson was quoted by CNN Business as saying, “All sellers must follow our selling guidelines and those who do not will be subject to action, including potential removal of their account. The products in question have been removed.”

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Amazon was forced to take similar actions in the past, after products on their website cause controversy. Earlier this year, they were forced to remove numerous items citing complaints that they were offensive to the Muslim community.

Last March, some anti-vaccination documentaries were taken down from Amazon Prime after a CNN business report. Amazon also pulled books that were said to encourage the curing of children’s’ autism using bleach.

In 2015, Amazon supposedly banned Confederate-flag themed merchandise after harsh criticism from the public, although a report from July of last year states that white supremacist and Nazi-related merchandise continues to be available on the site.

While Amazon itself has been at the center of much criticism over its own practices and treatment of their employees, it seems the global retail and video streaming giant is quick to respond to complaints about content on their streaming service and items for sale in their marketplace.

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