Amazon under mounting pressure to remove Nazi propaganda books

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Amazon under mounting pressure to remove Nazi propaganda books

'It is worrying that distinguished publishers like Amazon would make available products that promote racist or hate speech of any kind,' says Holocaust educator

Amazon UK screengrab
Amazon UK screengrab

Online retailer Amazon is under mounting pressure to remove Nazi material depicting Jews as “rogues and criminals” and “poisonous mushrooms” from its platform.

Several books which were translated into English were reported to the company in a letter by the Holocaust Educational Trust’s chief executive Karen Pollock on Friday.

“It is worrying that distinguished publishers like Amazon would make available products that promote racist or hate speech of any kind, let alone those from the darkest period of European history. We have already raised our concerns about similar issues over the past decade,” Pollock wrote.

“As the Holocaust moves from living history to history, our survivors regularly raise the concern that Holocaust denial and antisemitism still persist,” she added, urging the retailer to audit all material on sale and review its policies.

The books were first published by Julius Streicher – the founder and editor of the Nazi newspaper Der Stürmer, who was executed at Nuremberg over crimes against humanity.

They include Streicher’s 1938 children’s book entitled “The Poisonous Mushroom”, which was used as evidence at Nuremberg and is now marketed online for £7.67.

An introductory note left by the website Third Reich Books – which published the book on Amazon’s platform CreateSpace – describes the English translation as a “rare picture book … much sought after by collectors.”

The book, rated three-and-a-half stars by 26 online users, carries on its front cover a racist illustration of a mushroom made to look like a Jewish caricature of a bearded man with a large nose and marked with a Star of David.

Other paperbacks include Streicher’s £7.61 children’s book “The Mongrel”, a £7.64 text on how to teach “the Jewish question” to children and his political manifesto for £7.57.

The description for the “The Mongrel” says it is “rare, even among Third Reich books, in its open call to totally destroy Jewry, and indeed world-wide, as a necessary final step in an inescapable struggle to the death between Jewry and all the non-Jewish folks of the world.”

Other texts available on Amazon include works by Reinhard Heydrich, one of the Nazi officials responsible for the Holocaust, Adolf Hitler’s book Mein Kampf and material by the senior Nazi official Alfred Rosenberg.

When approached for comment, Third Reich Books issued a statement saying the books were “historical” rather than political commentary.

The statement said: “Our customers are primarily history buffs around the world. Including Israel. Many libraries, schools, universities, and even holocaust centers [sic] have purchased our books.”

Yet the official Twitter account for the Auschwitz Memorial said the virulently antisemitic material “should be removed immediately” in a tweet on Friday afternoon.

The former chancellor Sajid Javid tweeted on Friday: “@AmazonUK will want to demonstrate that it’s responsible company by acting quickly and stopping the sale of the this vile racist material.”

An Amazon spokesperson said: “As a bookseller, we are mindful of book censorship throughout history, and we do not take this lightly. We believe that providing access to written speech is important, including books that some may find objectionable, though we take concerns from the Holocaust Educational Trust seriously and are listening to its feedback.

“Amazon has policies governing which books can be listed for sale. We invest significant time and resources to ensure our guidelines are followed, and remove products that do not adhere to our guidelines. Additionally, beyond our proactive measures, we also promptly investigate all concerns raised.”

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