Online auction site eBay is facing an international storm of outrage after the British Daily Mail discovered it was profiting from a trade in Holocaust memorabilia.
Items for sale include the clothes of concentration camp victims. Among dozens of souvenirs on offer last week was a striped uniform thought to have belonged to a Polish baker who died in Auschwitz, according to the Daily Mail.
It was one of dozens of offensive items uncovered by an investigation conducted by the British newspaper. Within hours of being alerted to the item by the newspaper, eBay removed it from sale after conducting an “urgent investigation.”
The internet giant apologized and vowed to give £25,000 (approximately $40,000) to a suitable charity, before removing more than 30 other death camp souvenirs which it said had evaded its strict vetting process.
eBay, the world’s largest online marketplace, admitted it had no idea how long it has been helping sell items linked to the Holocaust, but one Nazi memorabilia dealer boasted of selling an Auschwitz victim’s uniform on the site last year.
The company receives a commission on items sold, as well as charging a listing fee, noted the Daily Mail.
Holocaust survivors, politicians and campaigners around the globe reacted to the Mail’s findings with revulsion and disbelief.
Eva Clarke, 68, from Cambridge, who was born in a concentration camp in 1945 and lost 15 members of her family at Auschwitz-Birkenau, said, “I am at a loss for words how a mainstream site like eBay could profit from this. It is so disrespectful to the victims.”
Among the items found for sale on eBay last week by the newspaper were: A pair of shoes belonging to a death camp victim advertised for £940 ($1510, Yellow Star of David armbands singling out Jews for persecution, a Holocaust victim’s battered suitcase priced at £492 ($790), and a £145 ($233) “concentration camp toothbrush.”
The most offensive item on eBay, the Daily Mail discovered, was a complete Auschwitz prisoner uniform, including striped shirt, trousers, cap and wooden shoes, with the seller including an armband from Dachau along with the sale.
The item was accompanied by a haunting image of a pile of garments from camp victims.
Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles said, “It is flat out disgusting for eBay, to profit from the prison garbs of Holocaust victims. They are on the same page as advertisements for major companies like Kia and McDonald’s. This is taking the sale of Nazi death camp memorabilia to the mainstream. It is deplorable.”
He added, “These precious items only belong in museums because they are witnesses to history. This trade is demeaning to everyone who died in the Holocaust.”
The Daily Mail notes that eBay has broken no UK laws by selling materials from the Holocaust, though the same trade is banned in Germany, Austria and France. In 2000 Yahoo was sued in France for allowing an auction of Nazi memorabilia.