AS the federal government hints it could criminalise the sale of Nazi memorabilia, a Jewish father and son were escorted out of a Perth auction house after they attempted to watch a selection of Adolf Hitler’s personal items go under the hammer.
The pair, who The AJN has chosen not to name, were told police might be called if they didn’t leave the premises.
They had arrived at JB Military Antiques on Sunday to see several items purportedly owned by the Nazi leader auctioned, including a cigarette box, decanter, gravy boat and hairbrush.
The cigarette box sold for $29,000, his tableware collection went for $25,000 and his hairbrush fetched $19,000.
The auction has prompted renewed calls for the sale of Nazi memorabilia to be banned, with Defence Minister Peter Dutton signalling a possible change in legislation. In a statement to media, Dutton said he found Nazi auctions “abhorrent” and that, “If the law needs to be changed to stop this from happening in our country, then it will be.”
Speaking to The AJN, meanwhile, the 23-year-old Jewish man from Perth – the grandson of a Holocaust survivor – explained he wanted to attend the auction to “understand what type of people would bid on an item like that”.
“The fact that a cigar box sold for $29,000 purely because it belonged to a man that tried to wipe out an entire race is an absolutely disgusting idea,” he said.
However, JB Military Antiques owner Jamey Blewitt told The AJN, “If the two gentleman had simply registered to bid, as our auction house rules clearly state, a simple request which all people attending must do, they could have stayed and watched the proceedings without fear or favour.”
The Jewish man maintains another auction house staff member had told him he did not need to register to stay in the room, and that he was never afforded a second opportunity to register.
While Blewitt says the two men refused to leave, prompting him to threaten calling the police, the 23-year-old denies they didn’t comply.
Blewitt, a former high school history teacher who has visited Auschwitz four times, defended the trade, saying it was “a legitimate business”.
“I totally understand the views held by the Jewish community and other members of society in relation to the sale of such items. However, let us not forget that history, right or wrong, is history,” he told The AJN.
Vowing, “We will continue to sell such items in the future,” Blewitt added they are “sold as historical artefacts in their nature and speak more about the educational legacy these provide and what can be learned from the period, as opposed to me or my auction house wanting to glorify or promote Nazism or the ideals and beliefs of Adolf Hitler”.
Anti-Defamation Commission chairman Dvir Abramovich, however, said, “The extermination and dehumanisation of millions should not have a tag price and be offered to the highest bidder. The perverse and twisted sale of these blood-stained items … is a kick in the stomach of the survivors who have suffered enough.”