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UPDATE (10/3/2022): Goodwill removed the auction item after VICE News flagged it to the company. Goodwill said in a statement that “Goodwill is inclusive of people from all different cultural and racial backgrounds and we have no tolerance for hate speech. We have a policy prohibiting the listing and sale of items that represent hateful, derogatory, or insensitive nature and we sincerely regret the error made in creating this listing. We apologize for any distress caused by this situation. These online auction items were immediately removed once we became aware of them. We have identified a need to provide additional training to our team when it comes to assessing items that are presented for sale.”
A Goodwill online store is currently selling Nazi memorabilia adorned with Hitler’s image and swastikas.A trio of mugs featuring images of the Nazi leader alongside hate symbols like the swastika and the motto of the SS is listed for sale for just $13.99 at the Goodwill of Western New York online store.The listing is titled “3 Vintage Adolf Hitler German Mugs W/ Pin” and has a minimum price set at $13.99. As of early Friday, there was one bid made on the items, and the auction is set to finish on Tuesday evening. Goodwill of Western New York is headquartered in Buffalo and operates 19 retail stores and donation points across the region. Goodwill, a nonprofit dedicated to employment services, operates thousands of thrift stores around the United States.Two of the mugs feature images of Hitler, what appears to be a reproduction of his signature, and his title: “Der Fuhrer.” They also feature the Nazi Eagle, which incorporates a swastika.
The third mug features a variety of different hate symbols, including the Odal Rune, the Arrow Cross, the Broken Sun Cross, and the Wolfsangel symbol, which was appropriated by the Nazi regime during Hitler’s reign, and remains listed as a hate symbol by the Anti-Defamation League database.
The mug also features the phrase “Meine Ehre heißt Treue,” which translates as “My honor is called loyalty" which was the motto of the SS during Hitler’s reign. The use of the motto has been outlawed in Germany since 1947.The pin states, “Ven you’re German, it’s hard to be humble.”There are no details provided about the provenance of the items, and the only information given is that the mugs are in “good” condition, though they show “some sign of wear.”VICE News was alerted to the listing by a reader who said “it is an absolute disgrace that an organization such as Goodwill whose mission is to help individuals with disabilities would go ahead and post this for sale.”The reader, who asked to remain anonymous over fears of threats from white supremacists, also sent an email to Goodwill requesting the listing be removed. “It is absolutely disgusting to see this on your website and I request that it be immediately taken down and the items destroyed. This is not how your organization should conduct itself and I hope to never see such racist, inhumane imagery on your website again.”Goodwill of Western New York and the national Goodwill office did not immediately respond to VICE News’ requests for comment about the item listing.Goodwill has operated an online store since 1999, and despite virtually zero marketing of the site, it passed $1 billion in cumulative sales last year and is visited by over 20 million every week. In 2020, Goodwill sold almost 5 million items online. The items on the site are listed by employees of regional stores. The items are put up for sale on an auction basis similar to eBay, with a minimum price that has to be met before the item can be sold.
The sale of Nazi memorabilia is a highly controversial one and this is not the first time an item has been sold by Goodwill featuring a Nazi symbol. In 2017 a shopper in a Goodwill store in Pasadena, California found a pair of shorts featuring the Nazi eagle emblazoned on the front. The item was immediately removed from the shop floor when it was brought to the attention of staff. While the sale of Nazi “collectibles” is banned outright in countries like Germany, France, and Austria, there is no such prohibition in place in the U.S. However, eBay does ban the sale of Nazi memorabilia for beaching its “Offensive Materials Policy.”Most major auction houses also refuse to sell Nazi memorabilia, but smaller ones still do. In July, Alexander Historical Auctions in Maryland sold a watch that once belonged to Hitler for over $1 million. There was significant backlash against the sale, with 34 Jewish leaders signing an open letter slamming the auction, which also included items such as a dog collar belonging to Eva Braun’s terrier, Wehrmacht toilet paper, and the cutlery and champagne glasses of senior Nazi figures.‘’The sale of these items is an abhorrence,” Rabbi Menachem Margolin, Chairman of Brussels-based European Jewish Association, wrote at the time. “There is little to no intrinsic historical value to the vast bulk of the lots on display. Indeed, one can only question the motivation of those buying them. Europe suffered egregiously because of the perverted and murderous ideology of the Nazi party. Millions died to preserve the values of freedom that we take for granted today, including almost half a million Americans. Our continent is littered with memorial mass graves and the sites of death camps.”