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Amazon pulls Auschwitz-themed Christmas ornaments, although other Holocaust merchandise remains on site

The site of Auschwitz, a concentration and extermination camp where over 1.1 million people were killed by starvation or disease or in gas chambers, is pictured on Aug. 8. (Luisa Beck/The Washington Post)

Amazon has halted the sale of Auschwitz-themed products such as Christmas decorations, a mouse pad and a bottle opener, following an outpouring of disgust on social media led by Poland’s official memorial museum.

The items featured images from Auschwitz, a former Nazi concentration camp where an estimated 1.1 million men, women and children died during World War II. An Auschwitz-themed star holiday decoration was described as a “high quality snowflake,” with the seller, going by the name of Fcheng, describing the bottle opener as a “memorable gift, perfect for every festival.”

The Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum in Poland took to Twitter on Sunday to condemn the online retailer for selling the products, calling them “disturbing and disrespectful.”

As of Monday morning, none of the products cited in tweet could be found on Amazon. “Thank you to those who reacted, reported and put pressure here,” the Auschwitz museum tweeted.

Despite the backlash, however, other decorative items featuring Holocaust-related imagery remained on the retail giant’s website, including a “Weekino Germany Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe” bottle opener and a “Germany Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe” Valentine’s Day key chain that showed an image of Berlin’s Holocaust memorial and a heart inscribed with the message, “I love you.”

Many other products from Fcheng were still available on Amazon, namely Christmas ornaments featuring less controversial scenes. The star-shaped ornaments included images from cities around the world such as Indianapolis and Ulaan Baatar, Mongolia, and including Abu Dhabi’s grand mosque and Indonesia’s Borobudur Buddhist temple. The manufacturer was listed as Jollin Travel Gifts.

The Auschwitz bottle opener featured an image of the barbed-wire fencing at the camp in Poland that the seller described as “a beautiful pattern nested in the middle.” Other images of Auschwitz, the largest of the Nazi concentration camps, were being sold on heart- and bell-shaped merchandise for $12 to $14.

Many on social media also expressed outrage, and the term “Auschwitz-themed Christmas” was trending in Britain on Monday morning. Over the weekend, many called on Amazon to remove the products and apologize. (Amazon founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post).

“All sellers must follow our selling guidelines and those who do not will be subject to action, including potential removal of their account,” Amazon said in a statement to The Washington Post on Monday. “The products in question have been removed.”

Earlier this year, Amazon removed from its marketplace doormats, bathmats and other items imprinted with verses from the Koran after a deluge of complaints from members of the Muslim community and the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

The advocacy group said the merchandise was offensive to Muslims because the Islamic references “would be stepped-on or otherwise disrespected by customers.”

“It should be offensive to anyone that a religious text would be on a mat that goes in a bathroom or is on a toilet seat,” the group said in a statement in January.

In 2018, a report from two watchdog groups found that Amazon was continuing to profit from the sale of white-supremacist propaganda such as books, swastika jewelry and baby onesies featuring an image of a burning cross — despite the company’s policy against selling products that promote hatred.