Tasmanian Premier: Nazi auctions ‘cross the line’

A German police buckle up for auction this week.

TASMANIAN Premier Will Hodgman said his government is open to banning the sale of Nazi memorabilia after a number of items went under the hammer this week.

Despite concerns expressed by the leader of the Tasmanian Greens and the Anti-Defamation Commission, Armitage Auctions in Launceston pushed ahead with an auction on Wednesday, offering items including a Hitler Youth belt buckle and an SS Panzer Division officer’s ring.

“I do not appreciate the sale of items such as these, or believe it would be something that would be welcome by the Tasmanian community,” Hodgman said.

“It does break a community standard and it does cause distress to our Jewish community and to Tasmanians more generally.”

Stating that the only suitable place for such items was in museums as a reminder of what “must never, ever happen again”, Hodgman said his government would “take advice” about banning the sale of such paraphernalia.

“We’ll certainly consider what options are available to government,” Hodgman said.

“We don’t want to impose unnecessary restrictions on people to do what they wish with their private property but I think there has been a line crossed.”

Expressing her “deep concerns”, Tasmanian Greens leader Cassy O’Connor said, “It is one thing not to forget the past to ensure we don’t repeat its mistakes, it’s another to highlight and try to make money out of the Holocaust.”

Echoing the sentiments, ADC chairman Dvir Abramovich described the sale as “sickening” and “indecent” and slammed Armitage Auctions “for choosing profits over doing the right thing by Holocaust survivors and the diggers who gave their lives to defeat the Nazis.”

He added, “I’m sure that Hitler would be delighted to know that the ghastly instruments of his regime’s monstrous crimes, are proudly offered for sale in an Australian store in 2019 and are available for neo-Nazis and Third Reich worshippers who are nourished and revel in this stuff.”

Armitage Auctions auctioneer Neil O’Brien told The AJN, “We can understand completely that the sight of some of these items could be upsetting and to those affected we are sorry.”

He added, “Whilst we obviously condemn what happened in the war along with similar atrocities throughout history, people are interested in artefacts associated with these events.”

Noting, “There are things that we offer for sale that we do not condone but are legal to sell,” O’Brien said, “I wish that we did not have to make a decision on morally what we should or should not be selling. It would be easy to make the decisions if there were clear laws guiding us.”

AJN STAFF