June 8, 2023
B’nai Brith Canada has called upon the owner of the website, www.privatecollections.ca, whose owner seeks to profit off the sale of Holocaust memorabilia, to immediately cease operating the site in such a callous fashion.
B’nai Brith was horrified to learn of the existence of the website and wrote immediately to its owner to demand its immediate termination. This website ostensibly exists to commercialize relics of the Third Reich and to produce a revenue in doing so.
The logo of the website, as it appears in the web browser itself, is a Schutzstaffel (SS) insignia. The website contains a category of goods called “good for display”, which suggests that the patrons are acquiring Nazi paraphernalia for the purpose of revering and displaying them.
There are several morbid items available for sale. The armbands of the Sonderkommando, the Jewish prisoners forced to work in crematoriums, portraits of Hitler and toothbrushes purported to have been found at the Auschwitz-Birkenau deathcamp.
Perhaps the most sinister item advertised for purchase is an empty canister of Zyklon B that the seller insinuates was used at Auschwitz-Birkenau. The attempt to justify any commercial gain to be achieved through the sale of such grotesque objects by imbuing nostalgic value on these items goes far beyond any notion of human decency or morality.
In the past, B’nai Brith has engaged with websites that list Nazi memorabilia for sale and achieved positive results. Often, the proprietors of the websites are unaware of the offensive items. Earlier this year, we successfully pressured Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer, to remove from its website deeply offensive items including Holocaust-themed prints and posters featuring images of emaciated concentration-camp victims.
Privatecollections far exceeds anything that B’nai Brith has previously dealt with. The site contains a weak disclaimer which professes that the items are for historical purposes only. This claim cannot be squared with the unambiguous celebration of Hitler and the Nazi party contained throughout the website, along with the fact that it is enticing customers to purchase items allegedly used in the mass extermination of innocent persons.
“The very existence of this website represents an unacceptable insult to the memory of the victims of the Holocaust, and every Canadian soldier who made the ultimate sacrifice combating the Nazi menace” said Michael Mostyn, Chief Executive Officer of B’nai Brith Canada.
This perturbing case is an illustrative example of why we need other Canadian provinces to follow the lead of Ontario and the Northwest Territories and introduce mandatory Holocaust education. Strengthening Holocaust education programs across Canada is essential at a time when we are seeing both an alarming rise in the number of antisemitic instances and a decline in the number of Canadian youths who possess a fact based appreciation for what occurred during the Shoah.
Those who wish to learn more about the Holocaust are encouraged to access B’nai Brith Canada’s Nizkor Project, which is an open access online Holocaust education resource.