QUEENSLAND Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has vigorously condemned the sale of a Nazi flag at a Gold Coast auction, but the auctioneers have defended the transaction, claiming the item is a valid historical collectible.
Following the online auction last Saturday, Palaszczuk, whose Polish grandfather was interned in a Nazi camp during WWII and whose Polish grandmother was forced to strip at gunpoint by Nazis, slammed the sale.
“It’s outrageous, it’s disrespectful and it shouldn’t have happened,” she said.
Her condemnation came amid renewed calls by the Anti-Defamation Commission (ADC) to outlaw the sale of Nazi military memorabilia and dozens of angry emails calling for the flag to be destroyed.
The 2.5 metre flag, bearing the swastika, flew over a Luftwaffe compound in the Netherlands city of Groningen when it was liberated by Canadian forces in April 1945. The seller, a wartime antiquities dealer from Queensland, has had it in his possession for 40 years.
Dustin Sweeny, managing director of Danielle Elizabeth Antique & Estate Auctioneers, defended the sale, telling media, “It’s not an illegal item … We can sell it. History teaches us how to go forward as a society. You must remember what happened, not glorify it. But this is an antiquity from that time.”
He also stated, “There are a lot of people out there who scream about selling this kind of stuff, but you can’t rewrite or erase history. It is one of the most important parts of the war for the Netherlands – pulling down that flag. It is a major historical antiquity.”
But describing the trade in Nazi items as “a disgrace and a travesty”, ADC chair Dvir Abramovich said, “We deeply commend Premier Palaszczuk for her shared moral conviction in locking arms with the ADC to decry this auction, and for sending the unmistakable message that trafficking in Nazi memorabilia is not who we are as a nation. We must all speak with one voice on this issue.
“No one should profit from the proceeds of crime, especially one as unprecedented and horrific as the Holocaust, and the Anti-Defamation Commission will deeply applaud the Queensland government if it can reach across party lines and use the legislative process to criminalise the sale of such items.
“The dark obsession and booming demand for Third Reich paraphernalia is alarming, and is an affront to all Australians,” he said.