Pending Nazi Artifacts Law Boosts Sales in Australia

Anti-defamation official denounces auctions, which included signed Hitler pictures
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 23, 2023 4:35 PM CDT
Pending Nazi Artifacts Law Boosts Sales in Australia
The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, or the Holocaust Memorial, in Berlin last week.   (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

Anticipation of a ban in Australia on selling Nazi artifacts has created what an anti-defamation official calls a "repulsive phenomenon"—buyers rushing to snap up offensive reminders of a horrific period. "I've been a full-time dealer for 14 years and I've never seen the number of people ring, email, or buy from us," Jamey Blewitt, who owns JB Military Antiques in western Australia, told the Guardian. "It's like the fuel station is about to run out of fuel, so they're filling up." His store sells more than 200 of the items, including badges, helmets, uniforms, daggers, medals, and caps, most of them marked with a swastika.

Blewitt said he sells to history and military buffs, not neo-Nazis. "If people are offended by it, we can just put a sticker on the swastika," he said. The bill before parliament is the reason for the jump in sales, Blewitt acknowledged. The legislation would ban selling and publicly displaying Nazi symbols. Private ownership and transferring memorabilia would still be allowed if profit isn't involved. Australia's attorney general said an increase in far-right activity is driving the legislation, per NBC News. Mark Dreyfus said the number of neo-Nazis in the nation isn't large, but it is concerning. "I'm hoping it's getting small and it will eventually disappear," he said.

An auction house has faced outrage after selling signed pictures of Hitler, Himmler, and Rommel last weekend, per the Guardian. The sale included what were billed as "blood-stained items" and took place under the banner, "Get it Before History is Banned & Erased." The house's boss answered the criticism by saying that the sale wasn't illegal and that buyers included "lots of politicians." The chair of the Australia's Anti-Defamation Commission denounced the sales. "I feel like I have been kicked in the guts by this vomit-inducing rush to hawk these items, and this is a clear case of money over ethics," said Dr. Dvir Abramovich. "Each auction house trafficking in these demonic and ghastly objects should be ashamed." (More Australia stories.)

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