Holocaust survivors and those involved in efforts to maintain the memory of the Shoah are up in arms over plans to put some 20 Nazi artifacts up for auction next week.

Among the artifacts to be sold by Pentagon Auctions are daggers, what the auction house has described as a “particularly rare” SS officer’s helmet, a Nazi symbol the auction house says was screwed onto senior Nazi officials’ cars, a five-yard-long flag that was hung on official Nazi buildings, and tags worn by slave laborers at the Daimler-Benz auto plant.

Yossi Pollack, the director of the Dorot Hahemshech memorial organization, which operates a number of popular Facebook groups on the Holocaust, said he has received quite a few complaints from survivors who are furious about the items being sold online.

“People wrote me and asked how we could be willing to allow such a thing to happen,” he said. He promised to fight the auction “the same way we led a war against the sale of the tattoo kits,” he said, referring to an auction in November halted by an Israeli court.

“Already in my childhood, I saw the number and the scar on my father’s arm, and he told me how he was stabbed in the arm by a Nazi guard for trying to eat grass from the ground. I see the knives that are offered for sale and think to myself: And what if it’s this knife? We won’t let this slide.”

Yad Vashem chairman Dani Dayan also denounced the sale.

“The proper place for historic items from the Holocaust period is in our collection. Here they are preserved, researched, and serve as a historical testament to researchers and the public at large,” said Dayan. “Unfortunately, we are aware of the trade in items from the Holocaust era, and Nazi memorabilia in particular. Such trade is problematic, and we oppose it both due to the moral flaw in the trade of such items as well as because it encourages and creates a market for forgeries and the trade of Nazi items, which has grown in recent years both in auction houses and online commerce sites.”

Eyal Benita, the head of Pentagon Auctions, dismissed the complaints from what he called “bleeding hearts and the self-righteous.”

“I get to people who have hit poverty and just want to support themselves. All the ‘heroes’ who say these items should be donated to Yad Vashem—let them buy them and donate them themselves. The seller in question is a man who acquired the items so that neo-Nazis wouldn’t buy them and now needs money. If the self-righteous are interested in approaching the seller and giving him the money, I’ll waive the seller’s fee. I am just a vessel. I just want to help this man,” he said.

This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.


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