LONDON — The online auction website eBay apologized over the weekend for allowing Holocaust memorabilia to be sold under its auspices.
The site removed about 30 items for sale within hours of an investigative report published in the Sunday edition of the Daily Mail. The report went up on the newspaper’s website late Saturday night.
“We are very sorry these items have been listed on eBay and we are removing them,” eBay said in a statement Sunday. “We don’t allow listings of this nature, and dedicate thousands of staff to policing our site and use the latest technology to detect items that shouldn’t be for sale.
“We very much regret that we didn’t live up to our own standards. We have made a donation to charity to reflect our concern.”
Among the items being offered for sale were a complete Auschwitz uniform, yellow Stars of David armbands worn by Jews during World War II, a Holocaust victim’s suitcase and a pair of shoes belonging to a death camp victim.
eBay makes 10 per cent of the final sale of items auctioned on its site.
According to the Daily Mail, the items were being sold by Viktor Kempf, a self-proclaimed historian living in Vancouver.
Kempf told the newspaper he bought the clothes from a reputable dealer in America. He was asking $18,700 for a striped uniform reputedly worn by a prisoner in Auschwitz.
“I understand why people may think profiting is wrong but I sell these items to document [them] and to fund my book projects. If I was a descendant of a victim, I would want to see how my relatives lived. I would want to buy these items to remember them,” he told the Daily Mail.
“I have had criticism in the past and I find it upsetting. I don’t want people to think I’m just doing it for the money. These periods in history are horrific, nobody should ever forget them,” he said.
The Daily Mail reported that Kempf was also selling concentration camp “trousers” with an estimate price of between $8,300 and $9,300. The trousers are said to have belonged to a Dawid Bittersfeld, who died at Auschwitz, and, according to Kempf, were “bought many years ago in Krakow, Poland” from his family.
Earlier in the week, it was still possible to find pages of Nazi-related items for sale on eBay Canada, mostly books about the Nazi era, but some vintage photographs, currency, coins and postage stamps.
Online classified sites, such as Craigslist, commonly list Nazi-era items for sale. Earlier this week, you could find on Vancouver Craigslist a reproduction of an SS Panzer officer’s hat for $125; Third Reich posters for $250; a Nazi-era coin, $10; an SS dress uniform ceremonial dagger, $200, and a Hitler Youth pin, $100.
B’nai Brith Canada praised eBay and urged Amazon to follow its lead and pull Holocaust and Nazi-related items from its online catalog. Amazon has been criticized recently for offering Nazi items and paraphernalia online.
“eBay has done the right thing in pulling Holocaust items from its website,” said B’nai Brith CEO Frank Dimant, said in a statement. “We hope that Amazon will take its corporate responsibility seriously and do the same. Selling items of this nature is not only an affront to those who perished in the Holocaust, but all those who suffered under the Nazi regime.”
With files from CJN staff