Etsy, at the request of the Auschwitz‑Birkenau Memorial and State Museum, has removed from its website a controversial T-shirt that referenced the Holocaust
The shirt first gained attention after a man wearing a “Camp Auschwitz” shirt was photographed storming the U.S. Capitol building along with other rioters on Jan. 6, in a now-infamous attempt to prevent the certification of the results of the presidential election. Five people died, including a Capitol police officer. Auschwitz was the largest Nazi concentration camp in Poland, where more than 1.1 million men, women and children died, according to the Auschwitz‑Birkenau Memorial and State Museum's website.
“Etsy Please remove this. It is painful to Survivors and disrespectful to the memory of all victims of Auschwitz,” read a tweet from the museum’s official account on Monday morning, along with a screenshot of the shirt on Etsy’s website.
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) January 11, 2021
Six hours later, the museum thanked Etsy for removing the item.
Etsy also spoke out about the shirt on Twitter, writing, “Etsy stands firmly against any form of hate. We immediately removed the listing and banned the shop that attempted to sell it, and are aggressively monitoring and removing items like these that violate our policies.”
Etsy stands firmly against any form of hate. We immediately removed the listing and banned the shop that attempted to sell it, and are aggressively monitoring and removing items like these that violate our policies. Thank you @AuschwitzMuseum for bringing it to our attention.
— Etsy (@Etsy) January 11, 2021
While some applauded’s Etsy’s move, not everyone was impressed. “It should never have been up on the platform in the first place, Etsy,” one commenter wrote. “Why was it up there is the first place? It's not the Auschwitz Museum's job to monitor your site. That's your responsibility. Fix your site,” another said.
When reached for comment, an Etsy spokesperson provided Yahoo Life with the following statement:
“We are deeply saddened by the events that took place at the U.S. Capitol. Etsy’s long-standing policies prohibit items that promote hate or violence, and we are vigilantly monitoring our marketplace for any such listings that may have been inspired by recent unrest.
We removed this item immediately when it was brought to our attention and have also banned the shop that attempted to list this item. Items that glorify hate or violence have no place on Etsy and we are committed to keeping our marketplace safe.”
Etsy’s seller policies prohibit the sale of items that promote or commemorate hate groups. The company has very detailed descriptions online about what does and doesn’t qualify as hate, including this statement: “Examples of hate groups include Nazi or Neo-Nazi groups, Ku Klux Klan (KKK) groups, white supremacist groups, misogynist groups, or groups that advocate anti-gay, anti-immigrant, or Holocaust denial agendas.”
But Etsy is not a curated marketplace, meaning sellers run their own shops, and are responsible for complying with the company’s policies. Instead, the company monitors its site manually and through automatic controls, and relies on users to report problematic listings through a site-wide flagging tool.
According the Auschwitz Museum spokesperson Pawel Sawicki, “The ‘Camp Auschwitz’ sweatshirt was noticed during the violent riots in the U.S. Capitol. Many people tagged us on Twitter to let us know about this particular situation. First of all,” he explains to Yahoo Life, “it is clear that the instrumentalization of the tragedy of people who suffered and were murdered in the concentration and extermination camp as a result of ideology of hatred is always painful. It is painful to Survivors and disrespectful to the memory of all the victims.”
The museum noticed, he adds, “that this situation raised discussion not only about the symbol itself and about the man who wore the sweatshirt, but also about companies that make profit from selling such products.We believe that selling and making profit from items with such reference to the Auschwitz camp — a place of enormous human suffering caused by hateful ideology, where over 1.1 million people were murdered — is simply not acceptable. People began to search such companies, flagged us on Twitter and contacted us for help. That is why in recent days we have asked several online stores to remove such disrespectful items from their pages. As you may have noticed, some responded quickly with an apology and the products were removed.”
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