On Sunday 1st December 2019 an online retailer Amazon.com has released a number of Christmas themed products which included pictures of Auschwitz concentration camp.
The ornaments feature various photos of historical places in Poland, including Krakow and the Auschwitz camp in Oswiecim. The list of products released by different retailers included Christmas tree ornaments, bottle openers and mouse pads. Amazon users, as well as the staff of Auschwitz Memorial, were quick to notice these products on the website, and there was a negative response confronting the website.
As one user calculated, first removal of the products started after 10 hours since the time they have been posted. During this period there have been new posts appearing with Auschwitz photos, which made it harder for Amazon.com to monitor incoming posts and each already existing product that needs to be removed from the website. So far there has been no official statements released on the website or any Amazon.com social media pages.
The major amount of the users’ responses claimed that Amazon.com was insensitive for enabling retailers to put up the ornaments onto the website. The imagery used on the ornaments was considered hugely offensive by the public, although some people stated that often automatic generators are used to put imagery on top of stock photos for merchandise, and the products themselves are only produced if there is customer demand.
Considering the fact that Amazon.com is one of the Big Four tech companies, along with Facebook, Apple and Google, it has over 2 billion visitors per month, and the user response started coming almost immediately after the release. It is also the most popular online seller in the United States. The users noticed the release of products with Auschwitz images and were quick to criticise the retailer. The most heated arguments took place online, specifically on Twitter, where Auschwitz Memorial account released a post claiming their disgust in the release of the said products. The post said that Amazon.com should remove all products with Auschwitz imagery as they are offensive to the public and to the memorial itself.
Although the posted ornaments were removed by Amazon on the same day, there appeared to be a huge debate going on in the comments sections on Twitter. Some users took action and started searching for any ornaments or other products with photos of Auschwitz that have not yet been removed. A few users questioned the regulations of the Amazon.com staff and how they regulate incoming posts with products, and whether such products can be banned from being released on the website. Some people stated that they will never use Amazon.com again as they feel that the company should take cases like this more seriously.
Even with most of products posted being removed by Amazon.com, another retailer, Wish.com, has posted products with the same images. This fact was brought up by the Auschwitz Memorial twitter post, encouraging the staff of Wish.com to remove it as well. As many people noted, it might be hard to remove all posts completely due to lack of strict regulations of online retailers.