The World Jewish Congress was appalled and disgusted to learn that Redbubble, an online market place, was selling clothing and home goods, including tote bags and miniskirts, imprinted with images of Auschwitz.
This insensitive and disrespectful display is just the latest in what has become a pervasive trend among certain vendors to flippantly offer up offensive items without pausing to consider the dangerous ramifications of turning symbols of human evil and human tragedy into fashion.
It is encouraging that Redbubble responded to the backlash over these items by taking immediate action and clarifying that the post was uploaded by independent users in clear violation of its community guidelines. Nonetheless, it is clear that Redbubble is lacking a vital mechanism for screening the items posted under its auspices, and we urge the company to rectify that problem at once.
Any individual who believes that profiteering from the ashes of the six million Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust, and specifically the close to 1 million Jews who perished in Auschwitz, is any way shape or form acceptable, must engage in some serious soul searching.
In recent years, we have seen the same types of heedless sales coming from numerous companies, each of which agreed to remove the offensive items only after it elicited enraged responses from Jewish organizations or social media users. In 2014, Zara sold striped t-shirts bearing the Star of David, in an obvious replicate of the striped pajamas worn by concentration camp inmates and the Jewish stars forced on Jews in the ghetto. Just two years before, in 2012, Urban outfitters sold a similar shirt, to the disgust of the Jewish community, begging the question of why Zara would even think to do such thing. In 2017, the Prada-owned Miu Miu company sold a similar item, containing a yellow patch, removing it from its website only after representatives of the WJC personally called to express its discomfort and disgust.
On Amazon, it is not uncommon for customers to stumble upon obviously hateful material, including Holocaust denial books and Nazi paraphernalia, as well as Lego characters dressed as Nazi soldiers, and while the WJC and other Jewish activists rush to respond the moment we see such items, we cannot and should not be responsible for policing the internet.
The World Jewish Congress consistently monitors these violations, and acts immediately when needed, but it should never be left to external bodies, be they individuals or Jewish organizations, to call these companies out.
These companies have a moral corporate responsibility to ensure that the items under their watch do not incite to hatred or exploit human tragedy. They must not allow their platforms to become a springing board for hatred, under any circumstances. All companies must understand the sensitivities of using Nazi symbols, and to ensure that it remains a red line across the board.
We sincerely urge Redbubble, and any other company that has found itself in the same predicament, to put into place a proper filter mechanism and take every measure possible to ensure that this never happens again.
.@redbubble Do you really think that selling such products as pillows, mini skirts or tote bags with the images of Auschwitz - a place of enormous human tragedy where over 1,1 million people were murdered - is acceptable? This is rather disturbing and disrespectful. pic.twitter.com/cdPvZGMXC6— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) May 7, 2019