Jewish group rails against Amazon’s ‘Nazi’ titles

The American Jewish Committee revealed plans to sue the German branch of retail giants Amazon as it claims some of the books sold by the company questioned the Holocaust and trivialised the Nazis.

The fifty titles under scrutiny include works such as The Auschwitz Myth – Legend or Reality by Wilhelm Staglich and many of them are classified as being unsuitable for under 18s by the German authorities, the AJC claimed.

Amazon, on the other hand, say that they definitely don’t sell books that have been banned and that instead of removing the books in question they would prefer to open discussion – in the interests of free speech. However, a spokesperson also said that they had recently removed some books deemed to trivialise or glorify the Nazis from sale.

I find this debate an extremely difficult one. On one hand I abhor the thought of anyone trying to deny that such atrocities ever took place, but on the other hand I firmly believe in people having the liberty to put their ideas into the public domain for others to condemn or consider at will. The thought of any books being banned terrifies me, but then so does the idea of people being sold a glorified version of past events that could potentially spark a repetition of opinion, if not of action.

I suppose my liberal opinion on publishing is perhaps more geared towards fictional accounts. Anything claiming to tell ‘the truth’ about such grave issues and then attempting to trivialise them certainly wouldn’t be particularly welcome in my local book shop.

Amazon with tail between legs

The complaints came thick and fast when authors, bloggers and readers became aware that tens of thousands of adult and gay and lesbian titles dropped out of Amazon’s book charts. Turns out Amazon made a mistake, a ‘glitch’ they said, and that it never meant to hide or remove these books (including titles from Jeanette Winterstone – one of my favourites).

The Guardian says that the mistake occurred when Amazon was trying out a system to make its lists more family friendly. And Amazon has claimed that the missing books were not only gay and lesbian titles – but covered a broad range of other themes and genres.

But is Amazon telling the whole truth? It certainly doesn’t seem out of the question that it might have just effected an about face when so much criticism was levelled against it. And does Amazon really need to boost a ‘family friendly image’?

It’s pretty scary stuff – Amazon holds a massive sway when it comes to book promotion and sales these days. But I was delighted to see what a huge response the issue got from people all around the world – keep our books, and our writers, uncensored and widely available.