A toy retailer featured on Amazon.com's internet marketplace has come under fire for selling toys based on Nazi-era German army units.
Manuel Hegel, a German citizen, recently publicized what he said were "Nazi" LEGO-like figures being sold on Amazon.
The figures are made available by the CustomBricks company, and bear a striking resemblance to the classic Lego figures.
The LEGO Group immediately published a statement clarifying that the offending figures were not of their making nor related to the LEGO brand, and that the company opposes the sale of figures dressed in Nazi uniforms.
The Daily Mail quoted LEGO spokeswoman Martina Stein as saying, "The product shown is not a Lego product. We dissociate ourselves in all form from such products and product modifications, because they contradict the values of the Lego Group. The LEGO Group would never produce or authorize these products, nor can we endorse them. "
A company statement said that LEGO "does not in any way sponsor or endorse the product - on the contrary." The statement, sent to the BBC, did not specify any legal action in this case, but said, "In general we take the steps necessary to ensure consumers are never in doubt."
According to Hegel, the figures "represent officers, soldiers etc of the Waffen-SS and thereby trivialise National Socialism."
"'These figures represent one of the most inhumane regimes in world history, and by playing with them children accept these uniforms, weapons, etc. as normal, which represents an unacceptable influence on the children."
"I urge you to take action against the manufacturers of such figures, if possible legally, and also to draw the attention of Amazon to this case, because any decent citizen will have the horrible notion that such figures will soon be under the Christmas tree and thus could fall into the hands of children."
He also said the toys might encourage children to accept "one of the most inhumane regimes in history," and said it was "chilling" to imagine that such a toy might be placed under a Christmas tree.
Meanwhile, CustomBricks wrote on their Amazon page that the item is not suitable for children under seven years of age, and requires adult supervision. The company also manufactures toy soldiers dressed as other countries' World War II soldiers.
Use of Nazi symbols is a criminal offense in Germany, and punishments range from large fines to time in prison.