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Estonian newspaper apologizes for fake weight loss ad using photo of Nazi victims

(JTA) — An Estonian weekly newspaper apologized for a mock ad for weight loss pills that used a photo of prisoners at a Nazi concentration camp.

The fake ad appeared in the humor section of the Eesti Ekspress with the caption "One, two, three — Dr. Mengele’s weight-loss pills work wonders!" according to reports.

It was designed to mock a recent ad for an Estonian gas company that used a photo of the front gate of Auschwitz on its website to sell its product, Sulev Vedler, deputy editor of the newspaper, told The Associated Press. Vedler told the AP that the ad was not meant to "target" Jewish people.

Vedler distributed an official apology late Monday in which he said the newspaper "apologizes to the people who were offended by this ironic joke," Haaretz reported. 

The Estonian Jewish community and the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Jerusalem had denounced the ad.

Dr. Efraim Zuroff, director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, reportedly rejected the newspaper’s apology, telling Vedler in a letter, according to Haaretz, that "I do not think that you understand the problem. The Holocaust is not a subject for satire, certainly not in a country in which local Nazi collaborators assisted the Nazis in mass murder and Waffen-SS veterans who fought side by side with the Nazis for a victory of the worst regime in human history, are considered freedom fighters and Estonian heroes."

The gas company, GasTerm Eesti, also had apologized on its site after removing the ad a day after it appeared.

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