The sickening theft and mutilation of the “Arbeit Macht Frei” sign from Auschwitz raises once again the spectre of the sordid trade in Nazi memorabilia.
The sickening theft and mutilation of the “Arbeit Macht Frei” sign from Auschwitz raises once again the spectre of the sordid trade in Nazi memorabilia. A simple google search reveals just how easy it is in the online world to buy, sell and browse all manner of items from the Third Reich.
One such site, Militaria-net, styles itself as “one of the worlds premier sellers of fine quality Third Reich related items including medals, badges, insignia, field equipment, uniforms, daggers, CD’s, Posters and more”, a “‘one stop’ shop” for all your Nazi needs, with over 1000 items on sale.
It boasts of offering a “comprehensive range of reproduction Third Reich Militaria and related items”, ideal for “collectors and re-enactors, museums, film/TV, and Theatre Groups” – though the complete lack of vetting means anyone can buy from them. Within a few clicks, anyone on the planet is able to buy, for example, an “iconic brownshirt worn by Hitlers Stormtroopers”: “100% cotton shirt with french cuffs, silver pebbeled buttons and belt hooks”, complete with “wool multi piece swastika armband for that early NSDAP look”.
Even convicted Holocaust-denier David Irving is cashing in. According to the Telegraph, he too has set up a website selling Nazi memorabilia, reportedly selling strands of Adolf Hitler’s hair, Hitler’s walking stick, and a goblet and spoon given as a christening present by Heinrich Himmler to Hermann Goering’s daughter, described as “unacceptable” by Dr Shimon Samuels, director of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, who told the Daily Mail:
“This Naz-eBay is extremely distasteful to the point of sick. There’s a market out there for Nazi memorabilia. If this is done to glorify Hitler, as I imagine it is, then it is unacceptable.”
Trade in Nazi memorabilia is banned in Austria, France, Poland and Germany, where it is also illegal to deny the Holocaust, display the Swastika, own a copy of Mein Kampf or give the Sieg Heil salute. In Britain, home to many memorabilia websites, none of these are a criminal offence.Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.