Nazi relics auction 'distasteful'

01:43, Jan 31 2009

A Wellington auction of Nazi paraphernalia - including a signed photo of Adolf Hitler - is "deeply distasteful", a top Jewish community member says

David Zwartz, Israel's honorary consul to New Zealand, is urging auctioneers to avoid sales of items associated with the genocidal regime.

Items going under the hammer at Dunbar Sloane's militaria auction next week include an officer's peaked cap, a Luftwaffe helmet and two brooches - all emblazoned with Nazi Germany's eagle and swastika emblems.

A German paratrooper's helmet from Crete estimated to be worth $3500 to $5000 was also among the offerings, auctioneer Bettina Frith said.

But the most striking item in the auction is the personally signed photograph of Hitler and his 1930s deputy Rudolf Hess.

The photograph - which has been put up for sale before without success - is estimated to be worth between $2000 and $4000.

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Ms Frith said there was a lot of interest in military items in New Zealand, but offers could come from overseas as well.

Most of the items came from an estate in the South Island, though the photograph was bought at a British auction by an Auckland collector.

As for the tastefulness of selling items associated with history's worst genocide, Dunbar Sloane had no policy against selling them, she said.

"I don't have a problem with it. It's part of history now. You could say anything about any of the wars."

Not all the German items were associated with atrocities, "but let's face it, atrocities on both sides were carried out", she said.

Mr Zwartz said the Jewish community found such sales deeply distasteful.

"It promotes a view that gives prominence and support for people who were immensely evil and caused a lot of harm to the Jewish people and to the world at large.

"Really, we would prefer it if auctioneers and dealers had nothing to do with that sort of material, but we know that we can't prevent it."

Trade Me spokesman Mike O'Donnell said the website had banned Nazi memorabilia as well as hate literature after unequivocal feedback from users. "It's a bit of a no-brainer, really."

The Dominion Post