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Nazi items pulled from military memorabilia auction in B.C. after outcry

cbc.ca logo cbc.ca 2019-11-23 Clare Hennig

The auction is selling hundreds of pieces of historic firearm and military paraphernalia from around the world, including these British Empire service medals awarded during the Second World War. © Provided by Canadian Broadcasting Corporation The auction is selling hundreds of pieces of historic firearm and military paraphernalia from around the world, including these British Empire service medals awarded during the Second World War. An auction house in Richmond, B.C., has removed some Nazi memorabilia it initially listed for sale this weekend after backlash from the community. 

More than 30 items originating in Germany during the Second World War — including a large red flag with a swastika — were posted for sale on Maynards Fine Art and Antiques's website priced between $150 to $250.

"We were disgusted and deeply concerned,"  said Nico Slobinsky with the Vancouver branch of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs.

 "These items are dripping in the blood of six million Jewish men, woman and children who were murdered during the Holocaust."

They were part of an auction scheduled for Saturday that features more than 300 pieces of historic firearms and military paraphernalia from around the world. 

Slobinsky said Nazi memorablia, even though legal to sell in Canada, shouldn't go to collectors or dealers.

"We are appalled that anyone would seek to profit from the sale of these items," he said. "And it's always a concern that these items could end up in the wrong hands."

Hugh Bulmer, vice-president of Maynards and principal auctioneer, said selling items from periods of war or genocide can be a difficult issue to balance. 

"I like to tell the story of history and I want the next generation to be aware of it, rather than sweeping it under the table," he said.

"But for the good of the community, and being a business in the community, we've decided to withdraw [some of the items]."

Any items with overt Nazi symbols, like the swastika, will be returned to the owner and not put up for sale at the weekend auction. Other German military items from that period, such as helmets, are still listed. 

Bulmer pointed out it's not just items from Nazi history that are tainted in blood and violence. 

The auction is also selling memorabilia from conflicts around the world, including the American Civil War and battles between the British Empire and the Zulu Kingdom.

"All these pieces — yes, they are from warfare but it's part of our history," he said.

He said the action house will be reviewing items on a case-by-case basis in the future. 

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