Online retailer removes 'Camp Auschwitz' T-shirt after US Capitol rampage

WARSAW, Jan 11 (Reuters) - Online retailer Etsy Inc has removed a T-shirt with a ‘Camp Auschwitz’ slogan from its website after images of a man wearing a sweatshirt with the same words during the assault on the U.S. Capitol last week prompted a protest by the Auschwitz Memorial.

The Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum said the slogan was disrespectful to the memory of all those who perished in the death camp, which was built by Nazi German occupiers in southern Poland during World War Two. It is now preserved as a museum.

The man who wore the sweatshirt was among supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump who last week stormed the Capitol, ransacking legislators’ offices and stealing computers and documents in an assault that left five people dead.

His sweatshirt was also emblazoned with a skull and cross bones and the message ‘Work brings Freedom’, a loose translation of the notorious sign “Arbeit macht frei” that greeted Jews and other prisoners arriving at Auschwitz during the war.

“.@Etsy Please remove this. It is painful to Survivors and disrespectful to the memory of all victims of Auschwitz,” the Memorial posted on Twitter.

A spokesman for the Memorial said clothing with similar slogans had also appeared on other online shopping sites.

Contacted by Reuters, an Etsy spokesperson said the company had been “deeply saddened” by the events at the Capitol and had immediately removed the T-shirt from its website when it was brought to their attention.

Etsy also banned the shop that had tried to list the item, the spokesperson added.

“Etsy’s long-standing policies prohibit items that promote hate or violence, and we are vigilantly monitoring the marketplace for any such listings that may have been inspired by recent unrest,” the spokesperson said.

In an emailed statement to Reuters, Pawel Sawicki, a spokesman for Auschwitz, criticised companies that sought to make profits from selling products that invoked the Holocaust.

“We believe that selling and making profit from items with such reference to the Auschwitz camp - a place of enormous human suffering caused by a hateful ideology... is simply not acceptable,” Sawicki said.

Holocaust survivor Marian Turski said he was “disgusted that anyone would want to make money off of this”.

More than 1.1 million people, most of them Jews, perished in gas chambers at the camp or from starvation, cold and disease. (Reporting by Joanna Plucinska Editing by Gareth Jones)