Originally published in Jewish News.

Sick anti-virus masks featuring Holocaust imagery have been condemned as a disgrace”.

Website holocaustfacemasks.com is selling the face coverings depicting Shoah victims and Auschwitz’s crematoria.

The site says: “Choose from different Holocaust related images and inspire those around you to think for themselves, and question authority. Our goal is to provide a reminder of what can happen when millions of people follow seemingly innocent ‘orders’ and ‘rules’… these images are meant to be reminders of what can happen when tyranny is ignored.”

Jack Rosen, president of the American Jewish Congress, said: “Efforts to create false equivalences between an action designed to save lives and genocide are shocking, and profiting from them is disgraceful. The American Jewish Congress is calling for the removal of the website – including by writing to Wix, the platform that has been used to create the website, to report about the page’s offensive content.”

Unfortunately, this is not a stand-alone incident. There is a troubling trend of evoking the Holocaust for making political points and, as we see in this case, to even make profit out of it. We must pushback against all these derogatory efforts that degrade the Holocaust and that deeply offend survivors, the memory of those who perished, and the Jewish community as a whole.”

Karen Pollock, Chief Executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust UK said: “These masks trivialise the Holocaust. They make a mockery of the 6 million Jewish men, women and children murdered during the Holocaust and are an insult to the suffering of Holocaust survivors, many of whom are still alive today. Personally, I cannot believe that this company’s suggested intention of encouraging people to ‘think for themselves, and question authority’ is sincere and I think this is highly inappropriate to say the least.”

Owners of the website responded to Jewish News saying: “If I thought it was inappropriate I wouldn’t have done it.”

“The intention is to invoke the memory of the Holocaust so that nothing like that ever happens again.

“People have become too comfortable, easily giving up their individual ability to think rationally and critically for themselves.  The entire point of these masks was to bring attention to this, to remind people what can happen when ‘orders are followed’.

“The images are not meant to be a fashion statement, or an entertaining accessory, they are meant to shock and disgust.  Because what we are doing when we make someone a criminal with a record for not wearing a mask is disgusting.”

Wix has been approached for comment.

© 2020 American Jewish Congress.