Auctioneers cancel sale of Nazi memorabilia after outcry
A Belfast auction house has cancelled the sale of Nazi memorabilia after an outcry from Jewish leaders.
Bloomfield Auctions in the city were set to auction a dinnerware set, which had an estimate of £20,000, on Tuesday.
Described on their Facebook page as “historically rare”, the tablecloth, napkins and silver cutlery set are emblazoned with swastikas.
They allegedly come from Adolf Hitler’s 50th birthday glass observation wagon on the Deutsche Reichsbahn, the Third Reich’s German state railway.
“The tablecloth is probably the only one known to exist today, making it historically rare, along with the cutlery and napkins, where only a very few have ever appeared,” the post read.
Since the Facebook post was published, the auctioneers were criticised for what some viewed as profiting from anti-Semitism.
Heino Schonfeld, director of Holocaust Education Trust Ireland, said he was appalled at the sale, and said the items should be kept in a museum.
“We were quite appalled when we saw the advert, and I would agree that they are historical, they would be well placed in a museum, in context and with explanation attached,” he said.
“They should be displayed in a context that commemorates victims, and explains what they symbolise.
“I’m not saying they should be destroyed, they’re artefacts that should be displayed in their proper place.
“Just to display them like this, with no explanation and without putting them into a framework – we find it appalling.
“It is totally insensitive of the feelings of possible victims of the Nazi terror regime and others who were persecuted at that time.
“We strongly object, we’d also point out that these kinds of displays are illegal in many jurisdictions, like Russia and France, for instance, very important countries who suffered under the Nazi regime, we would like to see a similar response from the governments in the UK and Ireland.
“It is not illegal, but it is still wrong.
“I personally would find it spooky to have them round the house, I don’t know the psychology behind the person who would buy them, but I know they’re very popular and traded for a lot of money.”
Mark Gardner, from the Community Security Trust (CST), a British charity established to ensure the safety of the Jewish community in the UK, said the auctioneers were turning a profit from Nazi memorabilia.
“Anyone with an ounce of decency will be disgusted to see people trying to turn a profit on this Nazi memorabilia, which draws its so-called value from Hitler’s depraved racism, mass murder and war-making across Europe.”
Craig Bennett, from Bloomfield Auctions, told the Press Association: “In light of the sensitivities surrounding the items, we’ve taken the decision to withdraw the sale, and they will not be sold by this company in the future.”
Selling Nazi memorabilia in the UK is not illegal, however the sale of such items is banned in other European countries, like Germany, France, Russia and Austria.