The internet auction site eBay has apologized and removed listed items purported to be artifacts from the Holocaust after an investigation by a British newspaper uncovered the listings.
The Mail on Sunday reported that the site had removed more than 30 listings for items ranging from a battered suitcase and a yellow Star of David armband denoting the wearer as Jewish, to a pair of shoes purported to belong to a death camp victim and a complete uniform believed to have belonged to a prisoner in Auschwitz, the Nazi death camp in occupied Poland.
The authenticity of the items could not be independently verified.
"We are very sorry these items have been listed on eBay and we are removing them," eBay said in a statement. "We don't allow listings of this nature, and dedicate thousands of staff to policing our site and use the latest technology to detect items that shouldn't be for sale.
"We very much regret that we didn't live up to our own standards. We have made a donation to charity to reflect our concern."
The Mail reported that the uniform was being sold by one Viktor Kempf, a Ukranian-born resident of Vancouver, Canada. Kempf told the paper that he bought the clothes from a dealer in America and insisted that they were genuine. He described himself as a historian who was selling the clothes to fund book projects. Kempf also said that he had sold another set of clothes linked to Auschwitz for $18,000.
"I have had criticism in the past and I find it upsetting," Kempf told the paper. "I don’t want people to think I’m just doing it for the money. These periods in history are horrific, nobody should ever forget them."
British historian Simon Schama, who is Jewish, was quoted by the Mail as saying, "This is absolutely beyond belief. Plainly there is no moral atrocity to which eBay will not descend to make a buck. This is an unspeakable act of moral cretinousness."
The sale of materials from the Holocaust is illegal in Germany, Austria, and France. It was not clear if the site violated any of those laws.