The American Jewish Committee in Berlin filed a complaint Friday asking prosecutors to investigate Amazon.de to see if it has broken German laws against Holocaust denial by selling far-right books.
"We must not allow the laws against denying the Holocaust and hate against minorities in Germany to be eroded through the proliferation of online companies," said AJC-Berlin director Deidre Berger in a statement.
Amazon.de's press office asked for questions on the case to be sent by e-mail, and did not immediately respond to them. Amazon.de is the German arm of Seattle-based online retailer Amazon.com Inc.
The books cited by the AJC, such as "The Auschwitz Myth" by Wilhelm Staeglich and a volume by convicted Holocaust denier Germar Rudolf, were available for sale on Amazon.de Friday afternoon.
Denial of the Nazi Holocaust is a crime in Germany, punishable by a possible five years in prison.
AJC member Benjamin Schoeler, reached by telephone, said the goal of the complaint, however, is to get Amazon.de to evaluate the books they sell, and pull ones that promote Holocaust denial or anti-Semitism.
Though the books cited by the AJC are all available via second-party sellers through Amazon.de's "Marketplace," Schoeler said buyers order and pay for the books through Amazon.de.
"We see the firm as responsible for what they are selling," he said.
He conceded that even if banned on the German site, the books could be purchased elsewhere — like in the U.S. via Amazon.com — but said nothing could be done to stop that.
"It is legal to purchase such books in the U.S., but it is not here," he maintained.
The complaint was faxed Friday to prosecutors in Munich, where Amazon-Germany is based.
There was nobody available at the prosecutors' office to comment on the case, but such complaints usually take at least weeks to be evaluated before a decision is made whether to open an investigation.