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Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Value of Soap Bars Crash

Bizarre bar of Nazi-engraved soap free of human remains, lab test shows

MONTREAL - A closer look at a bar of swastika-engraved soap purportedly from the Second World War has confirmed it is not made of human remains.

Analysis performed by a laboratory in southern Ontario specializing in older items reveals the soap tested negative for human or animal DNA, Montreal police said Wednesday.

Insp. Paul Chablo said police received the results this week, a few months after sending the beige bar of soap to be analyzed.

"The results were negative and the conclusion is clear: no detectable quantity of DNA was found to be present within the bar of soap," Chablo said in an interview.

"It's just a regular bar of soap."

Chablo said police investigated following a complaint and amid rumours the soap may have been made of human fat made from Holocaust victims.

"The Holocaust was a traumatizing experience for the Jewish community and it's something that cannot be taken lightly," Chablo said.

"And when you're talking about having human remains in soap, it is to a certain extent criminal, so it had to be investigated."

There have been stories over the years that the Nazis produced soap from the victims of the Holocaust, but the allegations have been debunked by historians and scientists.

This latest bar of soap was seized from a Montreal curiosity shop a few months ago following a media frenzy.

The storeowner said he bought it from a former soldier and that it was from Poland circa 1940.

B'nai Brith Canada sent a representative to the shop to investigate and filed a police complaint.

In a March interview with The Canadian Press, shopkeeper Abraham Botines said he had no idea whether the soap was actually made of human remains but that he simply wanted to sell it because he no longer wished to keep it.

It's not uncommon to see Nazi memorabilia for sale. It is not illegal to sell items bearing a swastika in Canada.

The soap sparked a controversy in the Jewish community as groups called the potential sale of the item "offensive."

Now, the director of the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre says there is no point in preserving such an item and that it has no historical value.

"If anything, it was an object that glorified, rather than educated about, the Holocaust," said Alice Herscovitch.

"What it shows is that people try to profit from the Holocaust as they try to profit from anything else."

Botines, who is Jewish, said he failed in previous attempts to sell the bar to a Holocaust museum. He had recently been seeking about $300 for the item.

Chablo said police don't plan to pursue any charges and the soap will be returned.

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