4/25/08

Amazon removes `I love Hitler` T-shirts following protests

The World Jewish Congress condemned Amazon yesterday for not removing the T-shirts from the site. Amazon the same day took down the items, which were being sold by a merchant using the Amazon platform.

Don Davis , Editor in Chief

Amazon.com Inc. says today it has removed from its site “I love Hitler” T-shirts for children and women that a retailer was selling through the Amazon platform. The action came after a blistering attack on Amazon yesterday by the World Jewish Congress, an organization that represents Jewish communities around the world.

"We are shocked and disgusted that Amazon.com is seemingly unwilling to stop the sale of such items, in spite of protests earlier this year,” Michael Schneider, secretary-general of the World Jewish Congress said in a statement released yesterday. “Not only is the slogan in bad taste, but to target children with clothes emblazoned with pro-Nazi slogans is particularly despicable."

The organization says it complained to Amazon about the items in January. Amazon removed the items at that time, an Amazon spokeswoman says, but they were re-listed a few days ago. "When we became aware of that, we took them down," she says. "We don’t want those items for sale on our site.”

Amazon has guidelines for merchants that describe what items can be sold through the Amazon platform, the spokeswoman says, “but with millions of items on the site, occasionally items are listed that we feel are inappropriate.”

Amazon, No. 1 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, did not identify the merchant selling the T-shirts. The World Jewish Congress referred to the products as the Direct Collection line.

Direct Collection products currently for sale on Amazon are mainly celebrity-related, such as “I love Britney Spears” and “I love Mel Gibson” T-shirts. Some are more provocative, such as the “I love Kim Jong Il” T-shirt and “I love Vladimir Putin” cap that refer to leaders of North Korea and Russia. Also for sale is an “I love Wernher von Braun” T-shirt that refers to the late scientist who helped develop missiles for Germany under Hitler, then played a central role in the U.S. missile program after World War II.

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