Monday 11 December 2017

Nazi memorabilia on sale at Dublin auction house despite holocaust survivor’s objections

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Rebecca Lumley

Nazi memorabilia will go on sale in a Dublin auction house today, despite objections from the son of a holocaust survivor.

Oliver Sears, a local gallery owner, described Whyte’s auctioneer’s decision to trade in Nazi memorabilia as “utterly tasteless.”

Speaking to the BBC, Mr Sears told of how his mother, Monika Sears (76) was a survivor of the Warsaw Ghetto. At just six years-old Mr Sears was placed on a train to an “extermination camp” Treblinka, but escaped.

A number of his family members died in Auschwitz.

He described the fascination with Nazi memorabilia as “strange” and suggested they be donated to a museum.

"What distinguishes this kind of symbolism from any other military is that these symbols are used by hundreds of far right groups," he said.

Mr Sears’ art gallery is located at 29 Molesworth Street, while Whyte’s Auctioneers and Valuers, who are auctioning off the memorabilia, is located just a few doors down at 38 Molesworth Street.

Nine items will be on sale today as part of Whyte’s The Eclectic Collector auction, including a Nazi sash, an Anschluss campaign leaflet, a child’s helmet and various German army daggers.

Managing Director, Ian Whyte, defended the company’s decision to go ahead with the sale, despite Mr Sears’ protests.

Independent.ie contacted Mr Whyte, though he declined to comment on the situation and referred back to comments he gave the BBC on the subject.

He told the BBC that he believed it was a “form of censorship to say collectors cannot collect what they like provided it is legal.”

He added that Whyte’s would only make a “tiny amount” from the items Mr Sears objected to and said that he did not see a connection between “collectors and neo-Nazis.”

Mr Sears previously approached Mr Whyte and requested that he not go ahead with the sale. He also suggested the proceeds be donated to charity, or that the company post a message to the website, distancing themselves from the Third Reich.

Mr Whyte refused, saying “we don't pass comment on what we sell, we describe it, we make sure it is genuine and that it is legal to sell.”

"To me it is a matter of principle, I do not agree with banning collectibles on the basis of political things," he said.

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