New Zealand Jews have cried foul over a large auction of Nazi memorabilia being held Wednesday.
Ben Isaacs, president of the Dunedin branch of the Australasian Union of Jewish Students, told the local Otego Daily Times that auctioning off items with a swastika should not have a place in Zealand.
“The decision to run this auction shows a lack of taste and sensitivity to those who lived through these atrocities and their families,” he told the paper. “It is a slap in the face to the Dunedin Jewish community and New Zealand Jewish community.”
The auction, being held by an anonymous collector who gathered the items for several years, includes flags and helmets with the Nazi insignia, items expected to fetch $500 to $600 each, according to Kevin Hayward, whose auction house is managing the sales.
Hayward told the Otego paper the auction was attracting national attention, but would be too expensive for most white supremacists. He said the auction house would try to be tasteful in how it displayed the items.
This is not the first time an auction of Nazi memorabilia has angered Jewish Kiwis. In 2008 Israel’s honorary consul to New Zealand, David Zwartz, urged auctioneers to avoid selling Nazi items, after an auction house sold several items from the German regime, including a signed photo of Adolf Hitler.
“It promotes a view that gives prominence and support for people who were immensely evil and caused a lot of harm to the Jewish people and to the world at large,” Zwartz told Fairfax New Zealand News at the time.
Though illegal in much of Europe, the sale of Nazi memorabilia is allowed in Australia and New Zealand.
“In many ways, we’d like it to be made illegal, but that said, doing so might give it publicity that would only encourage certain elements,” New Zealand Jewish Council President Stephen Goodman told the Press newspaper in 2009, according to a JTA report.