Antisemitism Expert: Nazi Relics Sold at German Auction Highlight Growing Far-Right Obsession With Holocaust Revival
June 20, 2016
The popularity of a recent controversial auction in Germany, which sold relics belonging to high-level Nazi officials, highlights a growing obsession on the part of the far-Right to revive its connection with the perpetrators of the Holocaust, a leading antisemitism expert told The Algemeiner on Monday.
Kenneth Marcus — president and general counsel of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law and author of The Definition of Anti-Semitism — was speaking in response to reports by German media that a mysterious Argentinian bidder spent approximately 600,000 euros ($679,000) on Friday to purchase Nazi memorabilia at a Munich auction titled: “Hitler and the Nazi grandees — a look into the abyss of evil.”
According to a report Monday in Germany’s The Local citing Bild daily, the buyer — dressed in dark clothing and a baseball hat — spent 275,000 euros ($311,000) alone on a uniform jacket belonging to Adolf Hitler. Silk underwear belonging to Gestapo founder and Nazi Air Force Commander-in-Chief Hermann Goering fetched 3,000 euros ($3,395). He also purchased the brass container that contained hydrogen cyanide, which Goering used to commit suicide hours before his scheduled execution in 1946 in Nuremberg.
In total, the mystery buyer — who refused to give his name to the Bild, but said he was “from Argentina” and bought the items “for a museum” — purchased more than 50 Nazi relics. Other attendees included “young couples, elderly men and muscular guys with shaved heads and tribal tattoos.”
What is even more intriguing about the mysterious buyer — and what Marcus said is “unlikely coincidental” — is that he identified himself at auction using the number “888,” which has ties to the neo-Nazi code “88.” According to the report, “88” marks the letter “H” in the alphabet and stands for the Nazi “Heil Hitler” salute.
“We are seeing an increasing fascination towards the Nazis in Europe at the same time that antisemitism is flaring up. Nazi memorabilia is increasingly fetishized and prized within the fetid corners of the world in which far-Right bigotry is reviving,” Marcus said. The auction itself, he contended, “is symptomatic of the broader resurgence of antisemitism and neo-Nazi ideology in Europe.”
“This is not just ‘neo’ Nazism. It is Nazism, pure and simple. In a sense, Nazism never entirely disappeared,” he told The Algemeiner. “Within much of the Western world, it simply went underground after World War II. Increasingly, however, it is resurfacing today as memories of the Second World War recede.”
In light of the increase in popularity of far-Right parties and candidates in Europe, and the seemingly open acceptance of Nazi bigotry — as exemplified in the republication of Hitler’s Mein Kampf — Marcus warned, “We should expect to see more acceptance of Nazism in the future if we do not guard against it. Given the rise of alt-Right ideology in recent years, we need to be just as vigilant against the old antisemitism on the far Right.”
The auction was heavily protested by the Central Council of Jews in Germany, who called on the auction house to cancel the sale. President Josef Schuster said the idea of “making business, without any limits, with items of Hitler, Goering and Eva Braun” was “scandalous and disgusting.”
The Nazi relics were formerly owned by late US army medical expert John K. Lattimer, who monitored the health of Nazis on trial in Nuremberg.
Nathan Lewin, Esq. Nathan Lewin is a cofounder and partner in Lewin & Lewin, LLP, where he engages in trial and appellate litigation in federal and state courts. Mr. Lewin has been listed in Best Lawyers in America since its first editions and was included in "Washington's Best 75 Lawyers" in the April 2002 Washingtonian magazine.