Washington (AFP) – American Internet retailers have withdrawn from sale a Halloween costume representing the clothes of Anne Frank, the celebrated Jewish teen who died in a Nazi concentration camp.
For $25 (excluding shipping), “your child can play the role of a World War II hero on Halloween,” said an ad for the costume.
It featured a blue dress buttoned in front and a green beret, representing girls’ fashion from the 1930s and 1940s, said an ad accompanied by the image of a smiling brown-haired girl with a hand on her waist.
The Anti-Defamation League saw nothing to smile about.
“In a climate of escalating worldwide anti-Semitism, the costume sold on Amazon as a ‘WWII evacuee costume” and elsewhere as an ‘Anne Frank costume’ is unconscionably insensitive to Holocaust survivors and their families,” said the ADL, which fights anti-Semitism.
ADL’s branch in the city of St Louis added: “We learn from Anne Frank’s life and death to honor her and prevent future atrocity. We don’t exploit her.”
Faced with the controversy, several distributors pulled the costume from their online displays, and at least one issued an apology.
“The Diary of Anne Frank” is one of the most-read books in the world.
The German-born, Jewish teenager kept the intimate memoir while hiding in an Amsterdam attic in the Nazi-occupied Netherlands until her capture in 1944.
Frank died of typhus in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp sometime in early 1945, aged 15, just before the camp’s liberation by British troops.
It’s not the first time that costumes for Halloween, a major US festival celebrated each October 31, have sparked controversy.
Two years ago, US retailers Wal-Mart and EBay withdrew an Israeli soldier’s outfit and an “Arab” nose after criticism.