Construction of Austrian Holocaust victims’ memorial begins

Long overdue:

Construction of Austria’s first public monument naming all the country’s Holocaust victims began on Monday, a further step by Adolf Hitler’s native land towards confronting an issue it has long struggled with.

For decades after World War Two, Austria denied responsibility for crimes committed by the Nazis, arguing that it was their first victim despite the enthusiasm with which many citizens had welcomed annexation by Hitler’s Germany in 1938.

The country now recognises that Austrians were perpetrators as well as victims of Nazi crimes but it has not confronted that chapter of its history as openly or directly as Germany.

“Berlin has one. Paris has one. Vienna had none. But the day has finally come today,” Oskar Deutsch, president of the Jewish Community (IKG), the body officially representing Austria’s Jews, said at a ceremony marking the start of construction work.

The new monument, located in a park next to Austria’s central bank, will comprise a ring of upright stone slabs around an island of trees, and will name all 64,259 Austrian victims of the Holocaust. It is due to be inaugurated in a year’s time.

“Remembering means commemorating the victims of the Shoah. This remembering and our history increase our responsibility, the responsibility daily and together to do everything to ensure that something like this never happens again,” said Deutsch.

Ironically, the project was first backed in 2018 by a previous coalition government of current Chancellor Sebastian Kurz’s conservatives and the far-right Freedom Party (FPO), which was founded in the 1950s by former Nazis and whose first leader had been an SS officer.

Although the FPO says it has abandoned its anti-Semitic past and now denounces the Holocaust, it has been plagued by racism and anti-Semitism scandals, and the IKG still refuses to deal with party officials. The FPO crashed out of government last year and Kurz now governs in coalition with the Greens.

There are Holocaust memorials in Vienna but the only one naming the Jews who lived in Austria and were murdered is in the city’s main synagogue.

Source: Construction of Austrian Holocaust victims’ memorial begins

Munich bans use of Nazi ‘Jewish star’ at coronavirus protests

Sad that it has had to come to this:

The city of Munich banned the use of Nazi-era Stars of David at coronavirus protests on Sunday after participants were seen wearing them in recent weeks.

Several protesters in cities across Germany have started wearing six pointed, yellow stars with the word “unvaccinated” emblazoned on them. From the color to the font, they’re nearly identical to the badges Jewish people were forced to wear across Nazi-occupied territories during the Holocaust.

Read moreHow are Germany’s coronavirus protests different?

Other anti-lockdown protesters have also dressed up in stripped prisoner uniforms — drawing comparison to concentration camp prisoners — and held up signs reading: “Masks will set you free” or “Vaccination will set you free.”

The slogans reference the “Arbeit macht frei” (“Work will set you free”) signs that hung above several concentration camps, where millions of Jews were killed during the Holocaust.

Demonstrators are using the highly questionable protest tactics to voice their opposition to mandatory coronavirus vaccines — despite the fact that the German government has repeatedly said it will not implement such a program.

Politicians slam anti-Semitic tactic

Felix Klein, Germany’s commissioner for the fight against anti-Semitism, said that wearing the altered Jewish stars was a “calculated breaking of a taboo,” reported local public broadcaster Bayerische Rundfunk.

The tactic has been used increasingly in protests in Germany, Klein said. In using symbols of the Holocaust to provoke at protests, he added, the demonstrators downplay the victims and their suffering.

Other politicians have called for more cities and states to also ban the use of Nazi-era stars at protests and to label them as a form of incitement.

Rüdiger Erben, a Social Democrat lawmaker in the state parliament of Saxony-Anhalt, said that the symbols have also appeared at protests in his state and that they have nothing to do with freedom of speech or freedom of assembly.

Whoever puts on one of the stars is acting “as an anti-Semite of the most repulsive kind,” Erben told news agency epd.

Protesters have been gathering for weeks in cities across Germany to demonstrate against the government’s restrictions to stem the spread of COVID-19.

Although participant numbers are starting to dwindle, politicians and analysts have grown increasingly concerned about right-wing extremist radicalization at the demonstrations.

Source: Munich bans use of Nazi ‘Jewish star’ at coronavirus protests

ICYMI: Germany sees rise in anti-Semitic, political crimes

Of note:

Germany saw a rise both far-right and far-left crimes in 2019, Interior Minister Horst Seehofer announced at a press conference in Berlin on Wednesday.

The country’s police recorded just over 41,000 cases of politically motivated crime last year, representing a rise of 14.2% compared to 2018, when there were just over 36,000.

More than half of all cases could be attributed to the far-right scene, the statistics show, with 22,342 cases, representing a 9.4% increase. The politically motivated crimes recorded ranged from verbal abuse, spreading racist propaganda, hate speech, to assault, arson, and murder. There has also been a 23% rise in far-left crime, focused particularly in the eastern city of Leipzig.

At the press conference, Seehofer was at pains to allay concerns that police or authorities were losing sight of far-right violence.

“The biggest threat comes from the far-right, we have to see that clearly,” Seehofer said,

Authorities also recorded 2,032 crimes motivated by anti-Semitism – a rise of 13% over 2018, and the highest since those statistics were collected. Some 93.4% of those crimes were carried out by far-right perpetrators. Seehofer said there was a similar figure – 90.1% – for Islamophobic crimes, which have also risen by 4% to 950 cases.

More propaganda, more murders

Next week marks the first anniversary of the murder of conservative politician Walter Lübcke, head of government in Kassel, central Germany. Far-right extremist Stephan E. initially confessed to the murder, though he withdrew the confession earlier this year and replaced it with a partial confession implicating an accomplice.

Far-right killings continued in February this year, when nine people of immigrant background were murdered by an extremist in two cafes in the central German city of Hanau.

The figures show that 36.8% of far-right crimes involve “propaganda offenses,” 13.7% involve “racist hate speech,” 4.9% property damage, and 4.4% violence against people.

Georg Maier, interior minister of Thuringia, who joined the press conference as the current chairman of the state interior ministers’ conference, was particularly forthright on the far-right threat.

“What we experienced in 2019 and 2020 represents a new dimension of threat against our democracy,” Maier said. “This danger is coming from the right. Three murders in 2019, and in 2020 already 10 murders with a racist and far-right extremist background. It had been a long time since we had the murder of a political representative in Germany, and that makes very clear how big the challenge for us is.”

Last week, Seehofer attended the first meeting of a newly established Cabinet committee, chaired by Chancellor Angela Merkel, to fight right-wing extremism and racism. “It was a very, very good and deep discussion,” Seehofer said. A cabinet report on new measures is planned for next spring.

The far-right and anti-lockdown protests

Maier, a Social Democrat who said his own campaign posters had been defaced with swastikas, said he had noticed an increase in “far-right structures,” both in the form of concerts, martial arts clubs, and online groups.

He said that organizers were using concerts to raise money for political campaigns and mentioned that far-right had even opened bars to create another revenue stream.

He went on connect such developments to a more polarized political atmosphere, and suggested that recent demonstrations against social distancing measures had been deliberately “undermined” by the far-right scene.

The data was released as police in Germany on Wednesday raided 25 premises linked to 31 suspected members of anti-government Reich Citizens Movement — a movement that overlaps with far-right extremist groups.

The group was suspected of making fake documents, including passports, driver’s licenses and birth certificates. The raids took place in the states of Hesse and Baden-Württemberg.

A faction of the group was officially banned by Seehofer in March for its anti-Semitic and right-wing sympathies.

Source: Germany sees rise in anti-Semitic, political crimes

ICYMI: Jewish Americans Say They Are Scapegoated For The Coronavirus Spread

Less than Asian Americans I suspect, but still of concern:

American Jews are finding themselves in a historically familiar position: Scapegoated for a plague.

Some of the first New Yorkers to contract the coronavirus were Jews in the Orthodox Jewish communities in and around New York City. In the weeks that followed, several Jewish weddings and funerals were held in violation of public health orders. Then came statements from public officials singling out Jews, and anti-Semitic threats on Facebook.

After New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio witnessed the NYPD break up a large funeral in Brooklyn for a prominent rabbi, the mayor tweeted: “My message to the Jewish community, and all communities, is this simple: the time for warnings has passed.”

De Blasio was condemned by fellowDemocrats and American Jews. There is no data indicating religious Jews are violating social distancing rules at a greater rate than other demographic groups. While there have been high-profile incidents of police disrupting Jewish gatherings, the NYPD has also made arrests of various sorts for failing to practice social distancing, like at a Brooklyn barbershop and at a Manhattan “marijuana party.” And pictures of throngs hanging out at parks and closely congregatingfor the Navy Blue Angels and Air Force Thunderbirds flyovers indicated that not social distancing isn’t a problem specific to a particular religious group.

De Blasio later said that he “spoke out of real distress that people’s lives were in danger.” He added: “I regret if the way I said it in any way gave people a feeling of being treated the wrong way, that was not my intention. It was said with love but it was tough love, it was anger and frustration.”

By some accounts, religious Jews in certain neighborhoods of New York City have been stricken by the virus at high rates. At the same time, Jews who have recovered from the virus have donated plasma in extraordinary numbers in an effort to save others.

In early March, Yaacov Behrman, a community leader and Hasidic Jewish activist, rushed to get ahead of the virus by marrying his bride, Shevi Katzman, after an engagement of just a week-and-a-half. They had a socially distanced wedding across two Brooklyn backyards — with a few siblings, no cousins, two witnesses and a rabbi, and 2,500 people watching on Facebook Live.

“I think that’s what’s so painful and upsetting about it, about the mayor’s tweet, [is] the vast majority of Orthodox Jews have given up [something] — I gave up a wedding,” Behrman said. “What are you generalizing for, Mr. Mayor? It’s like going to the park and saying, ‘My message to the yuppies,’ you know?”

Behrman said he does not believe the mayor is anti-Semitic, but Jews should not have been singled out.

“The organizers of the funeral [de Blasio tweeted about] were 100% wrong — it was an embarrassment, it was an embarrassment to me as an Orthodox Jew, it was an embarrassment to me as a New Yorker,” he said. “But I also want to make it clear, you look around New York, everyone is becoming lax unfortunately.”

Yet there’s a pattern of specifically highlighting Jewish offenders. In Lakewood, N.J., where early on in the pandemic police made arrests at large Jewish gatherings, a local news station reported that a school bus was carrying children to a Jewish school that was open, illegally. The reporter later acknowledged that the bus was just delivering food to homebound families.

In nearby Jackson Township, N.J., town council president Barry Calogero made a speech at a government meeting indicating that Judaism itself made Jews recalcitrant when it comes to following the rules.

“Unfortunately, there are groups of people who hide behind cultures or religious beliefs and put themselves, our first responders, and quite honestly all of Jackson and bordering towns at risk for their selfishness, irresponsibility and inability to follow the law put in place by President Trump and Governor Murphy,” he said.

Calogero said he was not anti-Semitic. But after criticism he resigned days later, citing health reasons.

And in Rockland County, N.Y., where there are large communities of Orthodox Jews, the county executive’s Facebook post about police breaking up a large Passover service was met by anti-Semitic comments.

Violations of health regulations by Orthodox Jews have been documented by public officials and media at a level of scrutiny that Jews say others don’t face. Eli Steinberg, an Orthodox Jewish writer in Lakewood, N.J., says it’s easier to generalize about those who wear traditional garb.

“We’re, ya know, we’re the guys dressed in black and white and we wear the hats, so it becomes a sort of more interesting story” when Jews violate health rules, he said. “But it’s not — it’s a story about people….People do dumb stuff.”

The problem, he said, is when it is made to seem as though the few who violate the rules are more widespread in a particular community.

“In a time of such uncertainty, which we’re going through now, when you can effectively scapegoat somebody or scapegoat a group of people about the issue that people are scared of…that’s a part of it that concerns me,” Steinberg said. “This moment where there’s the vehicle of Covid19 to use to spread hate, it just becomes that much more scary.”

Bari Weiss, author of How To Fight Anti-Semitism and a New York Timesopinion staff writer and editor, said given how anti-Semitism is at historic peaks in New York and around the country, public officials need to be “extremely specific” in criticizing large gatherings, instead of blaming “the Jewish community.”

I think that there is a double standard often when it comes to the way that the Jewish community and Jews are talked about, whether it’s because we’re not perceived as a minority, even though we are,” she said. “It stands to reason that lots of people who already perhaps have animosity toward that community will be even more emboldened.

The Anti-Defamation League released a report this week showing that there were more anti-Semitic incidents in 2019 than at any year since it it began tracking in 1979.

“Anyone that’s been paying attention, or anyone that knows people inside of these communities, knows already dozens of stories of people that have been spit on, assaulted, harassed, had their head coverings pulled off, had their face smashed with a paving stone,” Weiss said.

Now, amid the coronavirus, the hate is more socially distanced — happening largely online. Last month the ADL documented how community Facebook groups are loaded with comments blaming Jews for spreading the virus, and calling for them to be firehosed, tear-gassed and denied medical care.

Already a New Jersey man was arrested for using Facebook to threaten to assault Lakewood’s Jews for spreading the virus. He was charged with making terrorist threats during a state of emergency. A county deputy fire marshall in New Jersey was investigated for similar Facebook comments. And in Queens, a couple was charged with hate crimes after attacking a group of Orthodox Jews — ripping their masks off and punching them in the face — for supposedly not social distancing.

“You Jews are all getting us sick,” the couple allegedly yelled.

This is all too familiar to Jews, Weiss says. For centuries Jews have been massacred for supposedly spreading plagues. Rats brought the black death to the European continent in the 1300s, “but rats weren’t blamed. Jews were blamed.” Thousands were slaughtered; entire communities were eliminated.

Jews today do not believe that violence at such a scale is imminent. But they remember their history.

I think Jewish memory is always a gift, but it’s especially a gift in a moment of crisis because frankly, we Jews have lived through a tremendous amount in our centuries on this Earth,” Weiss said. “And whenever we ask could it get worse, we know the answer is yes, because we’ve lived through worse, or at least our ancestors have. So I think Jewish memory can help us be grateful and keep things in perspective.”

Source: Jewish Americans Say They Are Scapegoated For The Coronavirus Spread

Germany: No let-up in anti-Jewish crimes

Official police-reported statistics:

Germany’s annual report on politically motivated crimes will detail more than 41,000 crimes last year attributed to far-right and far-left individuals, with anti-Semitic acts amounting to 2,000 offenses, the Welt am Sonntag newspaper reported on Sunday.

Citing data to be published next week by the Federal Criminal Police Office, the paper said experts blamed the upward trend of politically motivated crime on an increasing belief by perpetrators that the behavior is socially acceptable..

The 41,000 cases overall represented a 14% increase on the level in 2018, with 22,000 crimes classed as extreme right and 10,000 crimes as extreme left — often so-called “propaganda” acts such as smearing graffiti, with some far more serious.

These categories had grown by 9 and 24% respectively, Welt am Sonntag reported.

Particularly alarming were politically motivated crimes in Germany’s eastern states of Thuringia and Brandenburg, where such cases had jumped by 40 and 52% respectively.

The data “unfortunately” shows a “massive problem” at both ends of the spectrum, said Thorsten Frei, deputy parliamentary leader of Chancellor Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats (CDU).

Politicians, journalists targeted

“Hate” tirades on the Internet were often aired “unrestrained” against communal politicians or journalists, said Frei, and some even included murder threats.

“Where ever the concept of “the enemy” [Feinbild] became entrenched in minds this sometimes quickly led to [threats] being acted out, said Frei while calling for the “swamp” of contemptuous language to be stamped out.

“People’s reticence to resort to violence has fallen,” Jörg Radek, deputy GdP police trade union leader told the paper. “People become violent more quickly because they are increasingly confident that their acts are socially accepted, said Radek.

“All violence from the right and left must be outlawed,” he said, “whether it’s directed at a camera crew, emergency workers, or the crew of a police patrol car.”

Hate-motivated sprees

In recent decades, Germany has witnessed a string of far-right racist crimes, including fatal shooting sprees in Halle in October and in Hanau in February.

Seehofer subsequently declared far-right extremism the “biggest security threat facing Germany,” promising a beefed-up security response.

Source: Germany: No let-up in anti-Jewish crimes

Vatican minimised Shoah reports due to antisemitism, researchers find

Having access to the Vatican archives was a long-term objective for many Holocaust researchers and good that these are being opened up with not surprising evidence of antisemitism and arguably wilful blindness and rejection of evidence:

German researchers working in the Apostolic Archive have found that the Vatican was handed reports about the extent of the Holocaust in 1942, but dismissed some of the information they contained.

The seven-person team from the University on Münster found that the Vatican had minimised information on the massacres of Jews, considering that Jewish and Ukrainian sources could not be trusted.

The conclusions hinge on a 1942 American démarche to the Holy See.

The team found that on September 27, 1942, the Holy See was passed a report by the American envoy to the Vatican, detailing the murder of Jews in occupied Poland and asking if the Catholic Church could independently confirm the crimes it outlined.

The report outlined how Jews were being taken out of the Warsaw Ghetto, and murdered outside of the city in camps.

The report, read by Pius XII on the day that it was received in Rome, said that 100,000 Jews had been murdered and that 50,000 had been murdered in Lviv, in what was then eastern Poland, and is now western Ukraine.

The report added that there were no Jews remaining in eastern Poland, and that Jews from Germany, Slovakia and the Low Countries had been transported to Eastern Europe where they were murdered.

The Vatican Apostolic Archives, which until October were known as the “Secret Archives”, contain up to 2 million pages of documents from Pius XII’s papacy. The Vatican threw open their doors, which were due to remain closed until 2028, on 1 March.

The researchers, led by priest and professor Hubert Wolf, a historian of the Catholic Church, spent a week working in the Apostolic Archive from March 2 before it was closed due to coronavirus restrictions.

Mr Wolf’s team found documents showing that the Holy See had received two letters independently confirming reports of massacres of Jews from Warsaw and Lviv.

In August 1942, it had received a letter from the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Archbishop of Lviv, Andrey Sheptysky, who wrote of 200,000 murdered. The following month, an Italian businessman spoke of “butchery” of Jews in Warsaw.

Despite these reports, the Vatican informed the American envoy that it was unable to confirm the reports.

Internally, a rationale justified that the information remained “to be verified”, in the words of a Papal adviser, as Jews “exaggerate” and that “Orientals” – referring to the Ukrainian Uniates – “are really not an example of honesty”.

Pius XII’s papacy ran from 1939 until 1958, and he never publically condemned the Holocaust, despite historians agreeing that the Vatican was aware of the murder of Jews across Europe.

Debate hinges on whether the Vatican remained too silent during the Holocaust and newly uncovered documents in the Apostolic Archive will contribute to peeling back a curtain of uncertainty on the role and knowledge of the wider Catholic Church during the Holocaust.

Documents from Pope Pius XII's pontificate have been opened to historians since March 1
Documents from Pope Pius XII’s pontificate have been opened to historians since March 1 (Photo: Getty)

Professor Wolf suggested that documents such as those his team had uncovered had been left out of the official Vatican compendium of Pius XII’s wartime role in a bid to preserve his legacy.

“This is a key document that has been kept hidden from us because it is clearly antisemitic and shows why Pius XII did not speak out against the Holocaust,” Wolf told Münster’s Catholic Kirche + Leben.

Mr Wolf noted in an interview with German Catholic newswire KNA that there was also potentially embarrassing information on the Church’s participation in the ‘Rat Lines’, networks that spirited high-ranking Nazis to Italy and on to Latin America.

Mr Wolf suggested, based on reports from the Papal Nuncio in Argentina, that the “the Vatican might have been able to get them passports,” and wondered whether “the nuncio was the middle man?”

Source: Vatican minimised Shoah reports due to antisemitism, researchers find

‘It was like Nazis had walked into your living room’: Anti-Semitism group’s Zoom meeting crashed with hateful messages

Sigh… Always need to review security settings but deplorable that some people hold these beliefs and zoombomb:

Andria Spindel was at her Toronto home participating in a video meeting on how to stop anti-Semitism when she heard a voice from her computer say “Sieg Heil.”

The executive director of the Canadian Antisemitism Education Foundation says she couldn’t believe what she was hearing.

“It was otherworldly. I don’t know how to describe it,” Spindel said. “For a moment there, I actually couldn’t think where I was. This wasn’t my webinar. Where was I? What had happened?

“It was like Nazis had walked into your living room.”

It’s unclear how someone might have infiltrated the foundation’s meeting on the Zoom video-conferencing web platform. The link to access the meeting had been sent to the group’s master list, which includes about 3,500 people and may have been posted on social media. What is clear to Spindel is that people are exploiting technology to spread hate, and with so many people working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Zoom has become a popular target.

Jewish organizations have also proven to be a target of what is being referred to as “Zoombombing,” in which malicious individuals crash video conferences to spread hateful and offensive content. In just the past week, the BBC, Jewish News Syndicate and news site Forward.com have all reported separate incidents of Jewish organizations’ Zoom meetings being disrupted by uninvited guests spreading anti-Semitic content.

Spindel said it highlights an urgent need for the company to address security concerns and for organizations and individuals who may not be technologically savvy to make sure they’re not ignoring any security vulnerabilities.

It was Monday when Spindel was hosting the web seminar, which had the theme of anti-Semitism as a virus that needs to be stamped out. Suddenly, she noticed rude and misogynistic comments in the chat channel. She started hearing strange background noises and marching music. Then the N-word flashed across the screen.

“That’s when I realized immediately something terrible is happening … and then, within seconds, you hear yelling, and screaming and the screen changing and somebody says ‘Sieg Heil.’”

She said she watched in horror as other participants of the web seminar reacted in shock.

“I actually thought I heard crying,” Spindel said.

She wasn’t able to immediately stop the meeting, because that function had been assigned to the guest speaker. They were eventually able to end the meeting, which had about 45 people participating.

But the damage was done. There was concern the infiltrators might have been able to steal email lists and contacts, something Spindel says a security expert has told her is possible, but unlikely.

“Do these people know who you are? … You have to sit back and say, ‘Oh my God, it’s just on my screen.’”

Retrospectively, she said the incident highlighted the prevalence of anti-Semitism in the world and the need for her organization to continue the work that it does.

Michael Mostyn, the CEO of Jewish advocacy group B’nai Brith Canada, said the organization continues to see a rise in anti-Semitism from year to year, although there was a bit of an anomaly in 2018.

Emerging forms of technology, such as social media platforms, offer those who spread hate anonymity and extended reach, Mostyn said. The crashing of a video-conferencing application such as Zoom is just another way that anti-Semitism is adapting in 2020, he added.

“It’s the morphing of anti-Semitism to modern forms of communication. … Unfortunately, those bigots and hatemongers are taking advantage of the situation and are using it to spread hate.”

Mostyn said anti-Semitism is often deeply rooted in conspiracy theories. Anti-Semitic tropes frequently portray Jewish people as a shadowy cabal with undue influence over the world. Misinformation about the source and spread of COVID-19 has been rife during the coronavirus pandemic, and anti-Semitism has been a factor, Mostyn said.

“The Jewish community has been tied into many of these conspiracy theories with respect to COVID-19,” he said.

Zoom has published several blog posts since March 20 outlining privacy and security best practices, with one titled “Keep the party crashers from crashing your Zoom event.”

In a statement, the company said it has made recent changes to tighten security, such as updating the default screen sharing settings for education users so teachers are the only ones who can share content by default. They also encouraged users to review their security settings.

“We are deeply upset to hear about the incidents involving this type of attack. We take the security of Zoom meetings seriously and for those hosting large, public group meetings, we strongly encourage hosts to review their settings, confirm that only the host can share their screen, and utilize features like host mute controls and ‘Waiting Room,’” a Zoom spokesperson said.

Spindel said the incident made her research the application to avoid similar incidents in the future. She recommends organizations using Zoom for their meetings look at disabling screen sharing, assign more than one moderator and reconsider having an open chat room that anyone can join.

She added that next week is Passover and many families will be holding virtual gatherings.

“This could be so upsetting, you’re sitting at your family dining room table by yourself … and this suddenly happens,” Spindel said. “So everybody needs to take precautions.”

Source: ‘It was like Nazis had walked into your living room’: Anti-Semitism group’s Zoom meeting crashed with hateful messages

Amazon Bans, Then Reinstates, Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf’ The retailer is trying to do two contradictory things: Ban hate literature but allow free speech.

Can’t be on both sides of the fence, particularly given its size and dominance, and company clearly has difficulty in being clear about its content guidelines, admittedly hard to develop and apply consistently:

Amazon quietly banned Adolf Hitler’s manifesto “Mein Kampf” late last week, part of its accelerating efforts to remove Nazi and other hate-filled material from its bookstore, before quickly reversing itself.

The retailer, which controls the majority of the book market in the United States, is caught between two demands that cannot be reconciled. Amazon is under pressure to keep hate literature off its vast platform at a moment when extremist impulses seem on the rise. But the company does not want to be seen as the arbiter of what people are allowed to read, which is traditionally the hallmark of repressive regimes.

Booksellers that sell on Amazon say the retailer has no coherent philosophy about what it decides to prohibit, and seems largely guided by public complaints. Over the last 18 months, it has dropped books by Nazis, the Nation of Islam and the American neo-Nazis David Duke and George Lincoln Rockwell. But it has also allowed many equally offensive books to continue to be sold.

An Amazon spokeswoman said in a statement on Tuesday that the platform provides “customers with access to a variety of viewpoints” and noted that “all retailers make decisions about what selection they choose to offer.”

“Mein Kampf” was first issued in Germany in 1925 and is the foundational text of Nazism. The Houghton Mifflin edition of “Mein Kampf,” continuously available in the United States since 1943, was dropped by Amazon on Friday.

“We cannot offer this book for sale,” the retailer told booksellers that had been selling the title, according to emails reviewed by The New York Times.

After disappearing for a few days, “Mein Kampf” is once again being sold directly by Amazon. But secondhand copies and those from third-party merchants appear to be still prohibited, a distinction that sellers said made no sense.

But on Amazon’s subsidiary AbeBooks, which operates largely independently, hundreds of new and used copies of “Mein Kampf” are available.

“It’s ridiculous how the greatest e-commerce company in the world has such lousy control of their platforms,” said Scott Brown, a California bookseller who sells on Amazon. “They somehow can’t prevent price gouging and they can’t prevent people from selling counterfeit goods and they can’t manage to — or don’t want to — effectively implement a Nazi ban.”

Anti-Semitism chief slams university lecture on Hitler’s lover

I think the title was the most objectionable aspect even if a quote:

The German government’s anti-Semitism commissioner, Felix Klein, has dubbed a planned lecture on Adolf Hitler’s lover Eva Braun as “completely incomprehensible and ahistorical,” according to the Sunday edition of Bild newspaper.

The lecture was expected to be given at the Technical University of Braunschweig (TU) as part of a series about women in world history. TU, however, rejected the accusation that the university was advancing Nazi ideas. “In conclusion, this is a contribution against right-wing extremist legends,” it said in a statement.

The university also said it was “sincerely sorry” for the “ineptly worded” event, titled “‘… I, the mistress of the greatest man in Germany and on Earth … Comments on Eva Braun.'”

The lecture was ultimately canceled due to illness on the part of the lecturer.

The university is also considering how the researcher behind the lecture could manage to explain his role in the event, “namely to critically reflect on why a historically insignificant woman like Eva Braun still receives a lot of media attention to this day.”

Braun, who ate a cyanide pill, and Hitler, who shot himself, died by suicide just 40 hours after they were officially married. The relationship was largely unknown to the public until after their deaths.

During Hitler’s rise to power, Braunschweig — then a regional state in the-then Weimar Republic — was where Adolf Hitler received German citizenship on February 25, 1932, two weeks before running for the role of German president.

Source: Anti-Semitism chief slams university lecture on Hitler’s lover

Amazon in Holocaust Row About ‘Hunters’ Series, Anti-Semitic Books

I am more concerned about the anti-semitic books and items that Amazon sells than the fictionalized series “Hunters” but others may disagree:

The Auschwitz Memorial criticized Amazon on Sunday for fictitious depictions of the Holocaust in its Prime series “Hunters” and for selling books of Nazi propaganda.

Seventy-five years after the liberation of the Nazi German Auschwitz death camp by Soviet troops, world leaders and activists have called for action against rising anti-Semitism.

“Hunters”, released on Friday and starring Al Pacino, features a team of Nazi hunters in 1970s New York who discover that hundreds of escaped Nazis are living in the United States.

However, the series has faced accusations of bad taste, particularly for depicting fictional atrocities in Nazi death camps, such as a game of human chess in which people are killed when a piece is taken.

“Inventing a fake game of human chess for @huntersonprime is not only dangerous foolishness & caricature. It also welcomes future deniers,” the Auschwitz Memorial tweeted.

“We honor the victims by preserving factual accuracy.”

The Auschwitz Memorial is responsible for preserving the Nazi German death camp in southern Poland, where more than 1.1 million people, most of them Jews, perished in gas chambers or from starvation, cold and disease.

The Memorial also criticized Amazon for selling anti-Semitic books.

On Friday, the Memorial retweeted a letter from the Holocaust Educational Trust to Amazon asking that anti-Semitic children’s books by Nazi Julius Streicher, who was executed for crimes against humanity, be removed from sale.

“When you decide to make a profit on selling vicious antisemitic Nazi propaganda published without any critical comment or context, you need to remember that those words led not only to the #Holocaust but also many other hate crimes,” the Auschwitz Memorial tweeted on Sunday.

“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,” an Amazon spokesman said in a comment emailed to Reuters. Amazon said it would comment on “Hunters” later.

In December, Amazon withdrew from sale products decorated with images of Auschwitz, including Christmas decorations, after the Memorial complained.

Separately, prosecutors launched an investigation into a primary school in the town of Labunie, which staged a reenactment of Auschwitz with children dressed as prisoners being gassed, local media reported.

The school is accused of promoting fascism in the performance in December. It could not immediately be reached for comment.