Books | February 24, 2020 6:00 am

Amazon Criticized by Auschwitz Memorial for “Hunters” Historical Inaccuracy

Amazon also critiqued for selling books by fascists

Al Pacino in "Hunters"
The new series "Hunters" is one of several reasons the Auschwitz Memorial is criticizing Amazon.

As its scale and the number of industries in which it’s involved have grown, Amazon has increasingly been criticized by rivals and industry observers. Some of that criticism has involved how the company treats its workers, while other instances of it have focused on Amazon’s effects on small businesses. And its relationship to the publishing industry remains a cause for concern.

But Amazon has recently come under fire from another source, and it’s one that’s less expected than some of its frequent critics. The Guardian reports that the retail and tech giant has drawn the ire of the Auschwitz Memorial.

The criticism was twofold: first, the Auschwitz Memorial criticized the Amazon Prime series Hunters for historical inaccuracies — specifically, for depicting a fictional game of chess played with humans as the pieces within the walls of a concentration camp. “Inventing a fake game of human chess for @huntersonprime is not only dangerous foolishness & caricature,” the Memorial wrote on Twitter. “It also welcomes future deniers. We honor the victims by preserving factual accuracy.”

The Memorial’s second critique addressed the availability of books by Nazis, including Julius Streicher, on Amazon.

Earlier this month, David Streitfeld at The New York Times reported that Amazon was beginning the process of removing Nazi-friendly books from its (virtual) shelves. However, the article notes “how hard it can be to tell exactly what Amazon’s rules are.” Certain books written by Nazis and other white supremacists are no longer available, while others remain on the shelves.

That inconsistency might be why, late last week, Amazon found themselves facing renewed calls to remove certain titles — including an anti-Semitic children’s book by Streicher, who was executed in 1946 after being found guilty of crimes against humanity.

Amazon is known for its lack of transparency; in this instance, when dealing with such a sensitive subject, that policy might be working against the company.

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