09 January 2023
An auction of National Socialist militaria, including items related to concentration death camps,, at Danielle Elizabeth auction house in Queensland, Australia has stirred up outrage in the Jewish community.
The online auction features 166 lots, a number of which have come from the son of a deceased German Waffen-SS officer. The items include 500 photos featuring piles of skulls and a stretcher entering a crematorium, a ‘Jews Unwanted’ building sign from 1938, Star of David armband, as well as the usual flags and daggers featuring the swastika.
The Australian states of Victoria and New South Wales criminalised the public display of Nazi symbols last year and there are concerns that if Queensland joins them the remaining, smaller states will follow suit, leading to a complete Australia-wide ban. The New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies Chief Executive, Darren Bark commented, “NSW has strong and effective laws banning the public display of Nazi symbols, which includes displaying such symbols online and on social media.” He added, “This is sickening and beyond the pale. These items belong in a museum as a constant reminding of the pain and suffering innocent people endured at the hands of the Nazis.”
In May 2022 the Queensland Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, said she would introduce legislation to make it a crime to display hate symbols such as Nazi swastikas but this has not happened yet. A Queensland government spokesman commented, “As the Premier has previously said, auctions like this are disrespectful and outrageous.”
Dustin Sweeny, Managing Director for the auction house pointed out the items were historical artefacts and legal to sell in Queensland. He also contacted Jewish museums in Sidney and Melbourne to notify them of the auction as many items would be of historical interest to them. Sweeny commented, “It’s been put to us before that we’re supplying neo-Nazis. No, we’re not. These people are just avid collectors.” He said he would obviously comply with any ban that came into force, but until then would continue to sell Nazi-era militaria.
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