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Soap for sale

TEL AVIV, April 3 (Reuter) — An Israeli shop of horrors from the Nazi Holocaust has cancelled plans to auction a bar of soap which its owner said was made from the bodies of Jews killed in a death camp.

“We removed it from the auction because private individuals and Chief Rabbi Yisrael Lau protested,” shop owner Menashe Meridack said on Monday.

His Zodiac Stamp shop, which originally dealt in philately, is stocked with Holocaust memorabilia including yellow Stars of David, which the Nazis forced Jews to wear, and identity discs issued to slave labourers.

The items are listed in a catalogue which Meridack said he distributes to collectors worldwide.

Meridack told Reuters he had purchased the bar of soap from the son of a former inmate of Buchenwald death camp and had planned to auction it on April 25 at a starting price of $300.

The soap is described on page 39 of the catalogue as “A terrible and tragic item — soap of victims in an antique box taken from Buchenwald.”

The seller, Moshe Yahalom, said in a telephone interview he offered the soap along with horrific photographs from the Nazi era because he had fallen on hard times.

“He (Meridack) said I would get a lot of money,” Yahalom said. “It pains me that I had to do this — but I was not going to go out and steal money instead.”

News of the auction drew an anguished outcry from Israeli legislator Dov Shilansky, a survivor of the World War Two Holocaust in which six million Jews died.

“How can he (Yahalom) live with himself — selling soap made from his ancestors? His father kept it as a reminder, so he would never forget,” Shilansky told Israel Radio.

Shilansky said he would raise in parliament the issue of the sale of Holocaust memorabilia. He said such soap — labelled “Made from pure Jewish fat” — was sold by a German firm during the war.

“If the auction goes ahead, we Holocaust survivors will stand outside the shop … in silence, which will be our loudest cry to heaven,” Shilansky said.