Jewish groups have attacked grave robbers for feeding the worldwide demand for Nazi memorabilia.
Looters are stripping burial sites of German troops in search of medals, coins, dog-tags, rifles, daggers, helmets and uniforms, often sold at military fairs.
Though most items have no historical value, they fund a market worth millions due to neo-Nazi interest in Third Reich memorabilia.
Ben Barkow, the director of the London-based Wiener Library for the study of the Holocaust, said the phenomenon was “a historical fetishism that does not teach you anything about the period. There is no educational value behind dog-tags from dead soldiers.
“The more ghoulish and morbid the items the more people seem to love them. There should be no market for these robbed or sold items and such things ought to be outlawed.”
Richard Westwood-Brookes, a historical document specialist at Mullock’s auctioneers, said: “I won’t sell knives, helmets or uniforms because there’s nothing you can learn from a dagger.
“The grave-robbing doesn’t surprise me because there are vast amounts of money being spent on Nazi memorabilia. There’s also an obsession with Hitler in this country. I’ve met the people who collect items such as daggers and they’re unpleasant. They might seem reasonable on the surface but their attitude is fundamentally Nazi.”
Mr Barkow warned: “Once you purchase these items, you are implicated in the desecration of war graves which is morally disgusting. We’ve been approached by third parties to anonymous sellers but we won’t go near the items.
“It’s about finding a boundary between a legitimate trade and stopping gangs digging up and stripping bodies. When it comes to these military fairs, it seems clear that neo-Nazis and affiliated neo-Nazi groups have latched on to them.”