Jewish shop owner offers Holocaust soap


MONTREAL (JTA) — A Jewish shop owner is generating controversy for trying to sell a bar of soap allegedly made from the remains of Holocaust victims.

Abraham Botines, who founded the curiosity shop Botines on the city’s trendy St. Laurent Boulevard in 1967, claims he bought the bar of soap from a retired Canadian soldier who found it in a concentration camp.

Botines’ son Ivan, who co-owns the store, said its ingredients are a mystery.

"I can only tell you what [Abraham] told me, which is it was probably made from human fat or grease," he told CTV News.

After reporters began descending on the store last Friday morning, the controversial artifact was removed from the front window. Abraham Botines said it can now be seen only by serious collectors or those willing to pay the price of $300.

"It’s my soap and I’m free to do anything I want with it," he told the Canadian Press.

Abraham Botines said he tried to sell the item to a Holocaust museum, which refused the offer. He said he has long been collecting memorabilia from the Nazi era.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corp. initially reported the existence of the beige bar of soap stamped with a swastika, alleged to be from Poland circa 1940.

The story also triggered discussions of whether the Nazis actually made soap from the remains of Holocaust victims.

"We have never found any evidence that soap was made from the remains of murdered Jews," Frank Chalk, a history professor at Montreal’s Concordia University, told CTV. "It’s an urban myth."

B’nai Brith Canada has called the item an "indignity" and said it would like police to investigate.

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