Jewish groups criticise 'hugely disrespectful' auction of Nazi memorabilia

The sale of the items has been called 'distressing and disturbing'


An auction house has come under fire for selling a collection of Nazi memorabilia including daggers and a belt buckle.

Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood in Exeter will sell the collection which features swastika and eagle armbands, swords, a bronze Gothe medal and a belt buckle, all from Nazi Germany.

But antisemitism campaigners have criticised the sale, arguing the items should be withdrawn immediately. 

Although it is illegal to sell Nazi memorabilia in some European countries - including France and Germany - the practice is not prohibited in the UK.

A bronze Gothe medal for Arts and Sciences presented to Dr Emil Haselhoff is on sale with an estimate of between £300 and £500. 

Swastika and eagle armbands have an estimate of between £50 and £70 while a belt buckle is expected to fetch between £100 and £200.

A yellow metal Swastika brooch inset with pearls has an estimate of between £40 and £60 whilst a dagger from a serving former Luftwaffe officer has an estimate of between £300 and £400.

The Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA) has urged the Exeter-based auctioneer to withdraw the items from sale after being approached by concerned members of the Jewish community.

In a letter to the auctioneers seen by the JC, Stephen Silverman, director of investigations and enforcement at the CAA, wrote: “We have been approached by concerned members of the Jewish community regarding the sale of Nazi memorabilia at your auction house, particularly in an upcoming sale on 22nd and 23rd August. 

“We would expect you to be fully aware of the disgust likely to be aroused by your sale of these items, which are forever associated with the genocide of the Jewish people, and are in demand by individuals and groups who believe that the failure of the Nazi regime to succeed in that endeavour is something to be lamented.

“We urge you to withdraw them from sale immediately and ensure that similar items will not be sold at Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood in the future.”

The Board of Deputies said in a statement: "Those with loved ones who suffered or died in the Holocaust would find it distressing, disturbing and hugely disrespectful that sales of Nazi memorabilia are appearing at auction.

"While the trade in Nazi and other wartime memorabilia is legal, vendors should show sensitivity when handling this kind of merchandise and not put it on general display.”

It comes just weeks after the Canterbury Auction Gallery (CAG) was criticised for selling a similar collection earlier this year.

The collection included flags, medals, helmets, daggers and Hitler Youth uniforms bearing swastikas.

At the time in May, Godrey Fischer, president of the Thanet and District Reform Jewish Synagogue in Kent, said the items belong in a museum, where their place in history can be properly explained.

Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood was approached for comment.

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