AN auction of Nazi memorabilia went ahead last weekend despite publicly aired concerns from the Jewish community.
Among the items being offered by auctioneer David Smith in regional NSW on Saturday, December 1 – according to his Facebook page – were helmets with Nazi insignia, SS and swastika patches, portraits of Adolf Hitler and a dagger.
It follows Nazi memorabilia being pulled from a Victorian auction last month after concerns were raised by the Anti-Defamation Commission (ADC).
In that instance the auction company, Downies, pledged to no longer accept such items, mirroring the policy of international auction company Sotheby’s.
However, Smith said he would “absolutely not” follow their example, telling the ABC, “It’s the Jewish people that are the ones up in arms about it but we actually liberated them, and then they brought back souvenirs to say, ‘well we won the war.’ And now when those people pass on, [they] expect us to destroy history.
“I can understand it was a terrible Holocaust and that was bad, but our guys went over and fought for them and liberated them, so they need to respect that as well.”
NSW Jewish Board of Deputies president Lesli Berger said, “The Nazis were pure evil and grotesque. Why would an auction house and its buyers think that that’s worth celebrating by trading and profiting from [their actions]?
“It sends a dangerous message while offending all those who fought, or suffered at the hands of, the Nazis.”
ADC chairman Dvir Abramovich, who is calling for the government to criminalise the sale of Nazi memorabilia, said the auction was “a kick in the stomach of the victims, the survivors who suffered and who lost relatives in the Holocaust, and the Australian soldiers who died fighting to vanquish the Third Reich”.
“The Nazis committed monstrous crimes using the imagery and symbols being offered here, and trying to profit from these blood-stained items is abhorrent and demonstrates a lack of decency,” he said.
“At a time when white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups, and racist violence are on the rise in Australia, this auction is particularly disturbing.
“Auction houses should not promote and display paraphernalia that represents genocide and unimaginable atrocities.
“These grisly effects and memorabilia belong in museums, not in the hands of bigots who wish to celebrate Hitler and his demonic regime.”