US retailers pull Anne Frank Halloween costume

The entrance of the Anne Frank Center in New York City. American online retailers were selling a Halloween costume representing the clothes of the celebrated Jewish teen who died in a Nazi concentration camp during World War II.
The entrance of the Anne Frank Center in New York City. American online retailers were selling a Halloween costume representing the clothes of the celebrated Jewish teen who died in a Nazi concentration camp during World War II.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

WASHINGTON • After the costume sparked cries of horror, American Internet retailers have withdrawn from sale a Halloween version representing the clothes of Anne Frank, the celebrated Jewish teen who died in a Nazi concentration camp.

For US$25 (S$34) excluding shipping, "your child can play the role of a World War II hero on Halloween", said an advertisement for the costume.

It featured a blue dress buttoned in front and a green beret, representing girls' fashion from the 1930s and 1940s, accompanied by the image of a smiling, brown-haired girl with a hand on her waist.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) 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.

Its branch in the city of St Louis added: "We learn from Anne Frank's life and death to honour 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 Germany-born, Jewish teenager kept the intimate memoir while hiding in an Amsterdam attic in Nazi-occupied Netherlands until her capture in 1944.

She died of typhus in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in early 1945, aged 15, just before the camp's liberation by British troops.

It is not the first time that costumes for Halloween, a major American festival celebrated on Oct 31, have led to controversy.

Two years ago, United States retailers Walmart and eBay withdrew an Israeli soldier's outfit and an "Arab" nose after criticism.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 20, 2017, with the headline 'US retailers pull Anne Frank Halloween costume'. Print Edition | Subscribe