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Polish firm to keep making Nazi toys

Cobi Toys CEO argues smiling figurines are ‘fun’ way to learn about history

Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter

Toy WWII German soldiers from toy maker Cobi (screen capture: Cobi)
Toy WWII German soldiers from toy maker Cobi (screen capture: Cobi)

A Polish toy maker announced it would keep producing Nazi-themed toys, arguing that it was a “fun” way for children to learn about history, the Daily Mail reported.

“We believe that through good fun we can teach history and we will continue this line in the future,” said Cobi Toys CEO Robert Podles.

“We cannot separate this from history,” he added. “Our history, our whole European history, unfortunately has imbibed this Nazism from the Second World War and we cannot escape from that.”

Cobi has a line of toys that depict soldiers and equipment from both sides of the conflict during World War II.

Earlier this week, Swedish department store Gekas said that it would remove toy World War II German soldiers from its shelves after customers complained that some of them appeared to be wearing SS uniforms.

“This is not something we want to promote as a form of ideal,” said Gekas CEO Boris Lennerhov, according to a report last week in The Local, an English-language website reporting news from Sweden.

Shoppers were reportedly offended after seeing the Germany army symbols on military equipment and tanks crewed by smiling “Nazi” soldiers.

In October Jewish-owned, Barcelona-based fashion chain Mango came under scrutiny for selling a blouse sporting a lightning-bolt motif that some said closely resembled the SS insignia.

According to Israeli daily Haaretz, some consumers dubbed the blouse “the SS shirt,” “the Eva Braun Collection” or simply “Nazi chic.” Some drew links between the name of the shirt, which features the German word for lightning, “blitz,” and the Nazis’ “blitzkrieg,” or “lightning war,” speed warfare tactic.

In August, Zara angered consumers by offering an NIS 80 ($23) children’s white shirt that featured dark horizontal stripes — and a fetching yellow Star of David badge on its left breast.

It was called the “sheriff,” and a closer look revealed that the word was indeed lightly etched upon the yellow badge. However, many saw it as being too reminiscent of the striped uniforms that Holocaust concentration camp victims were forced to wear.

Due to public pressure, the shirt was removed from the chain’s UK stores. Israeli business daily Globes reported that Zara had removed the sheriff shirt stock from its warehouses and planned to destroy it.

Stuart Winer contributed to this report.

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