An auction house in Tasmania’s north is being called on to stop the sale of several pieces of Nazi memorabilia after widespread backlash.
Items on offer include a police officer’s badge, a Hitler Youth belt buckle displaying a swastika and an SS officer’s ring.
They are listed for sale as part of an “antiques, collectables and general” auction, along with items of furniture, paintings and bottles of wine.
Dvir Abramovic, chairman of the Anti-Defamation Commission, which speaks out against anti-Semitism, said the items for sale were “sickening” and “perverse”.
He said the items symbolised “humanity’s darkest period” and called on the auction house to immediately withdraw them from sale.
Auctioneer apologises, but says sale will go ahead
In a statement, Armitage Auctions in Launceston said the sale would continue.
Auctioneer Neil O’Brien said the house often sold war memorabilia, and that the vendor was a long-standing customer.
“Whilst we obviously condemn what happened in both the great wars along with other similar atrocities throughout history, people are interested in memorabilia associated with these events,” Mr O’Brien said.
“Some of these items were actually brought back from the war as souvenirs by our servicemen.
“I can understand completely that the sight of some of these items could be upsetting, and to those affected I apologise.”
Mr O’Brien said it was legal to sell the items and that “people do collect it”.
There are many things that we offer that we do not approve of, but are legal to sell,” he said.
“Taxidermy items of animals that are now extinct, ivory items made from elephant tusks, samurai swords … many of these type of items have displeased some of our customers over the 30-plus years I have worked here.”
Sales should be restricted to museums: RSL
Tasmanian RSL president Robert Dick said Nazi memorabilia should not be sold into private hands.
“I believe that if these items are going to be put on the market it should be restricted to museums, so that they can put the story out there around the items for people to understand what they represented at the time and hopefully this type of thing will never happen again,” he said.
We don’t want some person sitting there fantasising over what happened with these items in the past.
“We need them to go somewhere where it’s a reminder to people of the horror and the dark part of our history that they actually represent.”
The sale is not the first time Nazi items have appeared on the market.
Last year, a Melbourne auction house withdrew several Nazi artefacts from sale after backlash, but one offering “great photos of Hitler” went ahead near Canberra.
In June, a sale of items including Nazi flags went ahead in Kargoolie-Boulder in WA.
The items will go under the hammer at auction in Launceston on Wednesday.